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Tax Policy and Politics: How Should We Pay for Civilized Society (3 cr)
LAW
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society." The price of civilized society depends not only on the amount of revenue raised, but on the way it is done. How progressive should the tax system be? Should the tax system reward good behavior and punish bad? Should it provide subsidies to achieve social objectives, such as decent childcare, affordable housing, or access to health care? How should married couples and families be taxed? Should death be a taxable event? Should we tax the amount people earn or the amount people spend? How much complexity can people tolerate in furtherance of social or other tax policy objectives? How should the tax burden be distributed among generations? The objectives of this course are: (1) to understand how the tax system got the way it is today; (2) to understand the major tax policy issues that drive the current political debate; and (3) to understand the implications of alternative tax policy choices for the future.

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