Talents, Types and Tags. What is the Relevance of the Endowment Tax Debate?

31 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2016

See all articles by Henk Vording

Henk Vording

Leiden University - Leiden Law School

Date Written: March 9, 2016


The academic debate on taxation of endowments or 'talents' is misguided in several respects. Following John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin, it tends to over-emphasize the 'slavery of the talented' problem. As a result, it ignores that a full-fledged endowment tax, if feasible, would offer a sizeable tax cut to all high-income earners. Of course, a true endowment tax is not practicable: the distinction between individuals' 'endowments' and their 'choices' finds very limited support in the social sciences. But the debate on endowment taxation has generated something useful. It does point at identifiable sources of economic inequality, such as labour market discriminations, that might well be considered relevant to the distribution of the tax burden.

Keywords: Endowment taxation, ability to pay, John Rawls, Ronald Dworkin

JEL Classification: H20, H24

Suggested Citation

Vording, Henk, Talents, Types and Tags. What is the Relevance of the Endowment Tax Debate? (March 9, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2745339 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2745339

Henk Vording (Contact Author)

Leiden University - Leiden Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 9520
2300 RA Leiden, NL-2300RA

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