A Fundamental Objection to Tax Equity Norms: A Call for Utilitarianism
Anti-utilitarian norms often are used in assessing tax systems. Two motivations support this practice. First, many believe utilitarianism to be insufficiently egalitarian. Second, utilitarianism does not give independent weight to other equitable principles, notably concerns that reforms may violate horizontal equity or result in rank reversals in the income distribution. This investigation suggests that a policy maker who believes in the Pareto principle -- that any reform preferred by everyone should be adopted - - cannot consistently adhere to any of these anti-utilitarian sentiments. Moreover, the affirmative case for utilitarian tax policy assessment is stronger than is generally appreciated.
|Date of creation:||Dec 1994|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as National Tax Journal, vol. 48, no. 4, pp. 497-514, (1995).|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
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- Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1971. "The Possibility of a Paretian Liberal: Impossibility Theorems and Cardinal Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(6), pages 1397-1402, Nov.-Dec..
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