January 16, 2012
Likhovski: Taxation Without a State: Jewish Taxes in Palestine, 1938-48
Assaf Likhovski (Tel-Aviv University, Faculty of Law), Taxation Without a State: Jewish Voluntary Taxes in Mandatory Palestine, 1938-1948:
In the late 1930s and 1940s, the Jews of British-ruled Palestine established an informal system of direct and indirect taxation. This system, which raised large amounts of money, was similar in some senses to a charity and in other senses to a governmental tax system. This paper provides an outline of the history of this system and some of its unique characteristics (such as the absence of formal rules of taxation and tribunals for the adjudication of disputes, the participatory nature of the system, the use of tax publicity or the role of this system in constructing a notion of Jewish “citizenship.”) While the system discussed in the paper was the result of the unique context of Palestine in the 1940s, a context which no longer exists, the history of this system is still relevant today. This history can be used theoretically to rethink some of our assumptions about the role of formal law (and other types of governmental techniques of control) by modern states, and the appropriate balance between civic rights and civic duties. It may also be relevant practically, by pointing to the utility of the use of civil society organizations in the process of tax collection and the disadvantages of tax privacy.
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