61 Pages Posted: 30 Dec 2006
This article reexamines some fundamental tax policy concepts through the analysis of commuting expenses.
The article calls for a paradigm shift in the analysis of tax deductions. It proposes moving from the seemingly technical business-private distinction to an explicit normative framework for analyzing deductions. It expands the range of normative considerations beyond the traditional concerns of efficiency and equity by adding two considerations that are novel to tax policy - identity and community - and it devises mechanisms that incorporate these old and new considerations into tax doctrine.
This article uses commuting expenses as a case study. A critical examination of tax law's disallowance of commuting expenses demonstrates the futility of the business-personal distinction. In its stead, the article analyzes the economic efficiency of allowing a deduction for commuting expenses; it uses the vast empirical literature on commuting to demonstrate the significant distributive questions involved; and it highlights the importance of community and identity considerations to the discourse of deductions in general and of commuting expenses in particular.
Keywords: Commuting, tax deductions, tax policy
JEL Classification: H24
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation