Monday, November 26, 2012
Sanchirico Presents Optimal Tax Policy and the Symmetries of Ignorance Today at Washington University
Chris Sanchirico (Pennsylvania) presents Optimal Tax Policy and the Symmetries of Ignorance, 66 Tax Law Rev. ___ (2012), at Washington University today as part of its Tax Colloquium Series hosted by Adam Rosenzweig:
What government-observable characteristics should determine the taxes that an individual pays and/or the transfers that she receives? This article focuses on a specific aspect of this fundamental question of tax policy: the implications of policymakers’ uncertainty regarding the outcomes of tax policy choices. The article identifies and questions two implicit premises in policy-uncertainty-based arguments against including taxable attributes other than labor earnings in the base. The first is that greater uncertainty surrounds the optimal taxation of non-labor-earnings attributes than surrounds the optimal taxation of labor earnings. The second is that tax policymakers ought to follow a kind of precautionary principle under which uncertainty regarding an attribute counsels base exclusion. The article explains why both premises are flawed.