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The Myth of Ownership – Taxes and Justice - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Myth of Ownership: Taxes and Justice

Liam Murphy and Thomas Nagel


In a capitalist economy, taxes are the most significant instrument by which the political system can put into practice a conception of economic justice. But conventional ideas about what constitutes tax fairness--found in the vigorous debates about tax policy going on in political and public policy circles, in economics and law--are misguided. In particular, the emphasis on distributing the tax burden relative to pretax income is a fundamental mistake. Taxation does not take from people what they already own. Property rights are the product of a set of laws and conventions, of which the tax sy ... More

Keywords: capitalism, taxation, economic justice, tax fairness, pretax income, property

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2002 Print ISBN-13: 9780195150162
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003 DOI:10.1093/0195150163.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Liam Murphy, author

Thomas Nagel, author
both at the New York University School of Law
Author Webpage