Statutory Interpretation, Comparative Law, and Economic Theory: Discovering the Grund of Income Taxation

William B. Barker

Penn State Law

San Diego Law Review, Vol. 40, 2003

The United States represents a rather unusual tradition in income tax law that relies heavily on concepts and principles whose content has been vastly expanded over the years by the courts. This paper focuses on the concept of income and demonstrates that the historical context in America justifies radical interpretation of tax statutes. This paper shows the methodology that best describes the Supreme Court's approach to the concept of income and justifies its development is a synthesis of the Anglo-American doctrine of the positive equity of the statute with the Roman civil-law doctrine providing for the analogical development of statutes. These doctrines provide the tools for a nonarbitrary development of the concept of income to cover unanticipated changes in the economic relations of taxpayers over time. Analogical development in accordance with the principle of distributive justice satisfies the democratic agenda constituted in the Sixteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 61

Keywords: Income tax, comparative tax, statutory interpretation, anological development, equity of the statute, comparative law

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K19, K34, K39, K40, K49

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Date posted: January 18, 2004  

Suggested Citation

Barker, William B., Statutory Interpretation, Comparative Law, and Economic Theory: Discovering the Grund of Income Taxation. San Diego Law Review, Vol. 40, 2003. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=489697

Contact Information

William B. Barker (Contact Author)
Penn State Law ( email )
150 South College Street
Carlisle, PA 17013
United States
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