The Individual Mandate and Tax Incentives

4 Pages Posted: 26 May 2012

See all articles by Erik M. Jensen

Erik M. Jensen

Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Date Written: May 25, 2012


This article responds to an argument, made by economist Martin Sullivan, that, if the Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate in the Obamacare legislation, all sorts of tax incentives — which, he argues, are economically equivalent to the mandate — would suddenly be at risk constitutionally. The article argues that (1) mandates and incentives are not necessarily legally equivalent; (2) more generally, economic equivalence does not mean legal equivalence; and (3) as has always been the case, the constitutional merits of tax incentives should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Keywords: individual mandate, economic equivalence, tax incentives

JEL Classification: K34

Suggested Citation

Jensen, Erik M., The Individual Mandate and Tax Incentives (May 25, 2012). 135 Tax Notes 879 (2012); Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-18. Available at SSRN: or

Erik M. Jensen (Contact Author)

Case Western Reserve University School of Law ( email )

11075 East Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44106-7148
United States
216-368-3613 (Phone)
216-368-2086 (Fax)

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