Three Views of Tax

Posted: 6 May 2005

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Virtually all liberal egalitarian advocates of redistributive taxation support an income tax, believing that consumption taxes fail to reach capital and its yield. But this is not true under progressive rates. There are two forms of consumption tax, prepaid and postpaid. A consistent progressive postpaid consumption tax reaches the yield to capital in just those cases in which ordinary moral intuitions want it to be reached: when savings are used to finance a better, more expensive, lifestyle. Such a tax stands between an income tax, which double taxes all savings, come what may, and a prepaid consumption tax, which never taxes savings. It is the last, best hope for some semblance of redistribution via tax on earth.

Keywords: taxation, fair not flat, tax reform

Suggested Citation

McCaffery, Edward J., Three Views of Tax. Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp.153-164, January 2005. Available at SSRN:

Edward J. McCaffery (Contact Author)

USC Gould School of Law ( email )

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
213-740-2567 (Phone)
213-740-5502 (Fax)

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