Saturday, February 09, 2008

Equality before the IRS

Is my Harvard colleague Alberto Alesina "contributing to the decay of our democratic institutions"?

Gilles Saint-Paul seems to think so. (HT: Real Clear Markets).

The interesting and important question raised by this essay is what "equality before the law" means in the context of designing tax policy. We already give special tax breaks to taxpayers who own their own homes, those with large medical bills, those who give to charity, those who pay high state and local taxes, those with employer-provided health insurance, those with kids, and so on. Is there any principled way of distinguishing these cases from taxation based on gender or height?