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Optimal Redistributive Taxation$
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Matti Tuomala

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198753414

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198753414.001.0001

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Optimal income taxes/transfers and non-welfarist social objectives

Optimal income taxes/transfers and non-welfarist social objectives

(p.235) 9 Optimal income taxes/transfers and non-welfarist social objectives
Optimal Redistributive Taxation

Matti Tuomala

Oxford University Press

Optimal tax theory has often been criticized for taking insufficient account of developments in other disciplines, notably philosophy and psychology. In particular, public economics has remained too rooted in utilitarianism. The welfarist approach ranks social outcomes solely according to how they affect individual utilities. Utility also plays a dual role in the welfarist literature on optimal taxation. It is the same utility function employed by individuals in their decision that enters the social welfare function. Both of these are open to question. The modelling of individual decision-making has been particularly questioned in the recent literature on behavioural public economics. Chapter 9 provides a general non-welfarist formulation of the income tax/transfer problem, which unifies special cases that have been studied in non-welfarist tax literature. Much of the attention of non-welfarist approaches has focused on a particular form of non-welfarism, namely poverty reduction.

Keywords:   welfarism, non-welfarism, poverty reduction, behavioural public economics, paternalism

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