A Map of Society: Defining Income in British, British-Colonial and American Tax Legislation
British Tax Review, Vol. 2005, p. 158, 2005
22 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2005 Last revised: 23 Feb 2012
This article provides a comparative history of the definition of income in British, British-colonial and American tax legislation from the eighteenth century to the early twentieth century. The article argues that the 200-year history of the legislative definition of income can be divided into three distinct stages. At each stage the definition of income was based on a paradigmatic source of income (land, trade/business, labour). The article also suggests that the definition of income at each of the stages reflected a certain conception of social hierarchy. The paradigmatic source at each stage was the item of income that was seen as typical of the class or group of people that dominated society. The definition of income was thus a social map, a map of who was included and who was excluded in certain societies at certain times.
Keywords: Tax, Tax History, Income, Definition of Income, Comparative Taxation, Legal History, Comparative Law
JEL Classification: B12, B19, H20, K34, N40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation