Progressive Taxation Revisited

53 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2010

See all articles by Donna M. Byrne

Donna M. Byrne

Mitchell Hamline School of Law

Date Written: 1995


While progressive taxation has enjoyed broad approval over the years, efforts to justify that approval theoretically have been mostly inconclusive. Tax policy has not managed to clarify just what theoretical fibers make up the cloak of approval that has surrounded progressivity. Thus in 1953, Professors Blum and Kalven concluded that "the case for progression, after a long critical look, thus turns out to be stubborn but uneasy.” This article considers the traditional arguments for or against progressive taxation alongside some theories of distributive justice in favor of and opposed to income redistribution in an attempt to integrate the economic analyses of the case for progressive taxation with the philosophical bases for an unequal tax burden.

Keywords: Income tax, redistribution of wealth, legal philosophy, political philosophy , distributive justice, taxation, Pareto efficiency, Kaldor-Hicks efficiency, equity

Suggested Citation

Byrne, Donna M., Progressive Taxation Revisited (1995). Arizona Law Review, Vol. 37, 1995, William Mitchell Legal Studies Research, Available at SSRN:

Donna M. Byrne (Contact Author)

Mitchell Hamline School of Law ( email )

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