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Everything is Tax

Susannah Camic Tahk

University of Wisconsin Law School


50 Harvard Journal of Legislation 67 (2013)
Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1243

In contrast to major legislative reform packages in the 20th century, the Affordable Care Act of 2010 took the form of a tax bill. Although this legislation is the first massive social and regulatory overhaul completed through the tax code, in the past twenty-five years the U.S. Congress and Presidential administrations have substantially increased their use of tax law for non-revenue-raising purposes. Growing reliance on the tax code represents a structural transformation of how Congress and Presidential administrations have come to approach lawmaking goals. This transformation defies the near-consensus of previous tax scholarship, which, following Stanley Surrey, disapproves of embedding programs in the tax code. However, that dominant view rests on assumptions that have become outdated. This Article analyzes the ongoing structural transformation by observing and explaining the advantages that accrue from pursuing social and regulatory objectives through the tax code. In particular, this Article identifies a number of legislative and normative advantages that tax-embedded policies offer.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 43

Keywords: tax, tax expenditures, tax policy, social policy, health law, Affordable Care Act, legislation

JEL Classification: E62

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Date posted: July 7, 2012 ; Last revised: January 22, 2014

Suggested Citation

Tahk, Susannah Camic, Everything is Tax (2012). 50 Harvard Journal of Legislation 67 (2013); Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1243. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2101675

Contact Information

Susannah Camic Tahk (Contact Author)
University of Wisconsin Law School ( email )
975 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706
United States
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