Grading Basis: Student Option
Is an introduction to public policy aspects of tax systems, with emphasis on issues raised by contemporary proposals for tax reform. Many of the issues and arguments are multi-disciplinary, drawing upon economics, moral philosophy, political theory, history and psychology, among other fields of study. The methods, pre-occupations, and strengths of these disciplines are examined in detail. The course gives special attention to the following topics: how taxes affect individuals' welfare and behavior; what attributes of taxpayers should be taken into account for tax fairness; whether a broad tax based on income or one based on consumption is to be preferred; how taxes and public debt interact; whether, and if so how, business entities should be taxed separately from individuals; the goals and limitations of international tax policy; federalism in state and local taxation; the use and abuse of economic models. Knowledge of economics, philosophy, and the other fields mentioned is not a prerequisite.