TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, October 14, 2013

Crane Reviews Raskolnikov's The Limits of Tax Law and Economics

JotwellCharlotte Crane (Northwestern), The Limits of Even the Most Powerful Theories, or Why Tax Really Is Different (Jotwell), reviewing Alex Raskolnikov (Columbia), Accepting the Limits of Tax Law and Economics, 99 Cornell L. Rev. 523 (2013):

What are the criteria according to which tax base design should proceed? In Accepting the Limits of Tax Law and Economics, Alex Raskolnikov cogently reminds us not to rely too heavily on the approaches associated with tax law and economics, even if we find the approaches of law and economics in other contexts appealing. ...

The bottom line for Raskolnikov ... is the familiar conclusion that law-and-economics practitioners who focus on tax base design have little to contribute to a debate that is not essentially economic but is instead political and moral. The difficult choices in tax base design are all those that are assumed away in the typical law and economics approach. The less common feature of Raskolnikov’s discussion is his willingness to accept the typical law and economics framework on its own terms, and his applause for the techniques of law and economics in tax policy analysis when appropriately limited. At times, his approach requires a lot from the reader, since not all of the framework is presented in ways that those not already schooled in it can digest. But regardless of one’s prior knowledge and prior assumptions about law and economics, one cannot help but agree with Raskolnikov’s ultimate conclusion that its framework is inevitably inadequate to the task of the larger problems in tax base design.

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