In this seminar, we will explore the fundamental policy issues that influence our choice of tax laws. We will not focus in any significant detail on the mechanics of the current law. Rather, we will spend our time thinking about what the tax law could and should be. Specific topics we will discuss may include theories of distributive justice, progressivity, tax compliance and enforcement, consumption taxes as an alternative to an income tax, tax shelters, and tax expenditures.
For the first portion of the course, we will cover various foundational aspects of tax policy through readings and discussion. Students will spend the second portion of the course focusing on a specific tax policy issue that they will discuss with the class and that will serve as the basis for their paper.
This course should not be limited to students who anticipate pursuing a career in tax or business law. Issues of tax policy are of general interest and involve basic issues of fairness and the appropriate role of government.