Taxing consumer acts: Connecting us to civic society?
Richard visiting his distant relative in Washington 09
Tax systems shape how we think about consumption
“Taxes class themselves readily according to the basis on which they rest. 1. Capital. 2. Income. 3. Consumption. ……………A government may select either of these bases for the establishment of its system of taxation, and so frame it as to reach the faculties of every member of the society, and to draw from him his equal proportion of the public contributions; and, if this be correctly obtained, it is the perfection of the function of taxation. ……
….But when once a government has assumed its basis, to select and tax special articles from either of the other classes, is double taxation. …….It is an aggrievance on the citizens who use these articles in exoneration of those who do not, contrary to the most sacred of the duties of a government, to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens.”
Thomas Jefferson: Note to Destutt de Tracy’s “Political Economy,”
This view, expressed by one of the founders of the American constitution, leads to questions about the consequences, for the character of our culture, of focussing tax on income or consumption. Perhaps the tax regime sends subtle messages about what is most valued? Is there grater untapped potential for the taxation system to shape future consumption patterns? How can we get the act of taxpaying to be a celebration of civic society?
Tags: civic culture consumption