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The Forgotten Henry Simons

Daniel Shaviro

New York University School of Law

November 27, 2012

NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 12-39

Surely just about everyone in the U.S. federal income tax field has heard of Henry Simons, if only for his famous definition of “personal income.” Few realize, however, that this proponent of “drastic progression” in a broad-based income tax was also a self-described libertarian who generally denounced government economic regulation and was arguably the chief architect of the pro-free market law and economics movement at the University of Chicago. This article provides a brief intellectual history of Simons’ work, aiming in particular to explain how and why he combined these seemingly disparate sets of beliefs, and what we may learn from them today.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 48

Keywords: Henry Simons, income taxation, consumption taxation, libertarianism, classical liberalism

JEL Classification: B20, B31, H20, H24, K34

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Date posted: November 28, 2012 ; Last revised: December 5, 2012

Suggested Citation

Shaviro, Daniel, The Forgotten Henry Simons (November 27, 2012). NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 12-39. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2181719 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2181719

Contact Information

Daniel Shaviro (Contact Author)
New York University School of Law ( email )
40 Washington Square South
Room 314-B
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States
212-998-6187 (Phone)
212-995-4341 (Fax)

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