The Preferential Option, Solidarity, and the Virtue of Paying Taxes: Reflections on the Catholic Vision of a Just Tax System

13 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2007  

Michael A. Livingston

Rutgers Law School

Date Written: January 22, 2007

Abstract

This paper considers Roman Catholic attitudes toward taxation in their historical context and in the context of contemporary policy debates, specifically the issue of progressive or redistributive taxation and its role in modern society. The paper begins with a brief background discussion regarding progressivity and the typical (primarily secular) arguments on its behalf. Following this I turn to Christian (and especially Catholic) sources regarding the nature of a just society and the role of taxation and fiscal policy in creating and maintaining such a society. I then turn to two specific, more contemporary Catholic concepts relevant to the debate: (i) the solidarity concept, which has been to a significant degree secularized but retains Catholic roots, and (ii) the preferential option for the poor, which has its origins in various Papal statements and has implications for taxation and other public policies. The paper concludes with a brief reflection on the particularity of Catholic thought and the role of religious bodies in the tax debate.

Keywords: taxation, income taxation, law and religion

JEL Classification: E61, E62, H20

Suggested Citation

Livingston, Michael A., The Preferential Option, Solidarity, and the Virtue of Paying Taxes: Reflections on the Catholic Vision of a Just Tax System (January 22, 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=958806 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.958806

Michael A. Livingston (Contact Author)

Rutgers Law School ( email )

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