Prerequisite: Law 220. Introduction to Federal Income Taxation.
This is an advanced tax course designed to introduce students to issues of distributive justice in tax law and policy. The course will begin by examining the philosophical foundations for various conceptions of justice in taxation, including libertarianism, utilitarianism, and liberal egalitarianism. We will then examine how alternative tax regimes advance or detract from the principal normative objectives of these various schools of thought. Several controversial issues of federal tax reform will be examined in depth, including debates over the progressivity of the income tax, whether/how the government should tax estates/inheritance, whether/how the government should tax wealth, the tax treatment of low-income families (including the EITC and negative income tax proposals), and the possibility of introducing a progressive consumption tax. In each of these settings, students will examine how alternative conceptions of distributive justice translate into concrete proposals regarding how the cost of financing public goods should be allocated among members of society. Students will be required to write one substantial research paper on a topic of their choice. Grades for the course will be based on the research paper and class preparation/participation.