Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fleischer Presents Equality of Opportunity and Charitable Giving Today at Michigan

Miranda Perry Fleischer Miranda Perry Fleischer (Colorado) presents Equality of Opportunity and Charitable Giving at Michigan today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series coordinated by Reuven S. Avi-Yonah.  Here is the abstract:

Given the foundational role of equal opportunity as an organizing principle in our society, it is surprising how much the legal scholarship has lagged behind the political philosophy literature in producing a rich debate about how to define and implement equal opportunity.  Most legal scholarship reflects a very general interpretation of the concept, often failing to address complexities such as the “equality of what” debate.  There are, of course, exceptions, such as the recent work by Anne Alstott on inheritance taxation and Jim Repetti on the rate structure. 

This Article adds to that more nuanced work by mining the notion of equal opportunity to see what light it sheds on another area of tax policy, that of the charitable tax subsidies.   As I have previously argued, current scholarship on those subsidies over-emphasizes the (very real) benefits of efficiency and pluralism, while under-emphasizing distributive justice issues.   As a result, both existing literature and current law contain substantial normative gaps.  My ambition, therefore, is to identify what a detailed exploration of equal opportunity theories can tell us about some of the most vexing questions of charitable giving policy:  Which organizations should merit assistance via the charitable tax subsidies?  Should such charities be required to offer free or reduced services to the poor?  Is a deduction or credit preferable? And whether participation limits are advisable, to name a few.

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