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Rules, Politics and the Normative Analysis of Taxation

Taxation has been a much-discussed subject in the literature on economics and in writings on the role and meaning of the state. Over the centuries, many authors have put forward views of what qualifies as "good" taxation and what constitutes undesirable tax policy. Consensus on these issues has changed over time, depending on historical circumstances and prevailing modes of economic thinking. In this chapter, we look at analytical views that enjoy broad acceptance in the current literature on taxation. We call these views "rules" or "norms" of analysis. They represent patterns of thinking that have wide currency or that have become codified in the literature. The chapter describes eight of the most important rules or norms and then critically examines their validity in a framework that makes explicit allowance for collective choice. Our critique leads us to identify several shortcomings and limitations in existing patterns of thinking.

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File URL: http://www.carleton.ca/economics/wp-content/uploads/cep00-12.pdf
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Paper provided by Carleton University, Department of Economics in its series Carleton Economic Papers with number 00-12.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: 01 Aug 2000
Date of revision: 2002
Publication status: Published: Revised version in Handbook of Public Finance, ed. Jürgen G. Backhaus and Richard E. Wagner, Norwell, Massachusetts: Kluwer Academic, 2002, Ch. 5 (pp. 109–137)
Handle: RePEc:car:carecp:00-12
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  1. Hettich, W. & Winer, S.L., 1993. "The Political Economy of Taxation," Papers 8, Carleton - Business Administration.
  2. Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 175-208, April.
  3. Lockwood, Ben, 1993. "Commodity tax competition under destination and origin principles," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 141-162, September.
  4. Hamilton, Jonathan H & Slutsky, Steven, 2000. " Decentralizing Allocation and Distribution by Separation with Information Transfers," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 2(3), pages 289-318.
  5. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521021807 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Atkinson, Anthony B & Stern, N H, 1974. "Pigou, Taxation and Public Goods," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(1), pages 119-28, January.
  7. Wolfgang Eggert, 1999. "Capital Tax Competition with Inefficient Government Spending," CoFE Discussion Paper 99-15, Center of Finance and Econometrics, University of Konstanz.
  8. Boylan, Richard T & McKelvey, Richard D, 1995. "Voting over Economic Plans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 860-71, September.
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