Foucault and Tax Jurisprudence: On the Creation of a 'Delinquent' Class of Taxpayer
Washington University Jurisprudence Review, Vol. 8, p. 59, 2015
27 Pages Posted: 3 Jan 2016
Date Written: December 1, 2015
In Discipline and Punish, Foucault described the role of the “disciplinary institution” in the formation of modern society. An example of such a modern Foucauldian disciplinary institution is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS currently devotes a substantial portion of its enforcement efforts against small businesses and low-income individual taxpayers. The IRS collection activity, as directed against low-income taxpayers, often manifests in Foucault´s “Philadelphia”-style prison, but without walls. The delinquent taxpayer becomes the delinquent social class with a diminished earning capacity, thereby directly undermining the reformatory goal of punishment. This audit process is a very different enforcement process than applied to large corporate taxpayers where the IRS continues to follow a “policy of restraint” with regard to the auditing of aggressive corporate tax positions.
Keywords: Foucault; tax jurisprudence; delinquent
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