Critical Tax Studies: Vertical Equity Redux

32 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2017

Date Written: March 16, 2017


Vertical equity is a helpful tool for traditional and Critical Tax Studies scholars alike. For example, contrary to the many claims that fairness in respect to tax policy is unknowable, definitive results about the “fairness” of tax policy can be reached using the vertical equity framework. The term “vertical equity” refers in particular to establishing fairness in respect to tax rates (or other tax-specific criteria) between known groups of taxpayers, whereas horizontal equity relates to establishing what those groups are. Prior attempts at what is referred to as “Tax Crit” have focused primarily on horizontal equity concerns. The vertical equity terminology also relates well to the separate field of Critical Legal Studies, given that it can be applied to the relevant issues of distribution, paternalism, and efficiency. The approach described herein essentially builds the criteria of taxation (such as vertical equity) into Critical Legal Studies and positions Critical Tax Studies as a composite field of study. Postmodern philosophy is also applied to form a solid foundation for Critical Tax Studies. The use of the vertical equity framework renders it possible for Critical Tax Studies scholars to communicate in a common language with other tax scholars. To introduce this framework, the article considers the fairness and morality of the tax system and develops a new version of tax deconstructionism using the traditional tax criteria of vertical equity.

Suggested Citation

Bogenschneider, Bret, Critical Tax Studies: Vertical Equity Redux (March 16, 2017). Available at SSRN:

Bret Bogenschneider (Contact Author)

University of Surrey - School of Law ( email )

United Kingdom

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