Perpetuating Inequality by Taxing Wealth
Goldburn P. Maynard Jr.
Louis D. Brandeis School of Law
May 1, 2016
84 Fordham L. Rev. 2429 (2016)
University of Louisville School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2016-7
Proposals to “fix” the estate tax by making it both more far-reaching and meaningful are plentiful. While these suggested improvements are reasonable, and even modest, they have failed to confront an important part of Graetz and Shapiro’s book, Death by a Thousand Cuts: stories trump science. This Article attempts to correct this shortcoming in the progressive argument by returning narrative to its central place in the estate tax debate. Drawing on psychological insights, I hope to underscore the difficulty of the effort to preserve progressive taxation and combat wealth inequality. I argue that the proposals have not confronted the underlying narratives that estate tax abolitionists have advanced. I use System Justification Theory to explain the entrenched and persistent nature of these narratives.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 24
Keywords: estate tax, inequality, wealth, system justification theory, wealth inequality
JEL Classification: K34
Date posted: May 14, 2016 ; Last revised: September 16, 2016