Households and the Fiscal System

Daniel Shaviro

New York University School of Law

Social Philosophy & Policy, Forthcoming

One of the most vexed issues in the history of the federal income tax is how family or household status should affect tax liability. This article suggests a general approach for thinking about the treatment of households in the fiscal system generally under a utilitarian social welfare norm. The fiscal rules considered include those not only in the income tax but under Social Security, Medicare, and safety net programs. Among the recommendations that emerge from the analysis are (1) recognizing couples for tax and transfer purposes without limitation to those that are married, (2) reducing the fiscal system's current distributional bias in favor of one-earner couples and its discouraging work by secondary earners, and (3) providing significantly more favorable treatment of households with children than of those with similar resources but no or fewer children, without limiting this more favorable treatment, in the manner of present law, to relatively poor households.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 42

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Date posted: March 21, 2005  

Suggested Citation

Shaviro, Daniel, Households and the Fiscal System. Social Philosophy & Policy, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=688587

Contact Information

Daniel Shaviro (Contact Author)
New York University School of Law ( email )
40 Washington Square South
Room 314-B
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States
212-998-6187 (Phone)
212-995-4341 (Fax)
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