Monday, October 21, 2019
Clint Wallace (South Carolina) presents Democracy-Enhancing Tax Policy at Loyola-L.A. today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Ellen Aprill and Ted Seto:
This paper contests the pervasive notion that democratic governance and good tax policy (however defined) are in conflict, and places the impulse to avoid or constrain democratic forces in tax policy making as a symptom of a more fundamental challenge: a lack of attention to the actual and potential role of taxation in promoting a flourishing democratic community.
I offer two theoretical arguments in response to this notion and impulse. First, I argue that democracy demands broad participation in tax policy making. This point connects tax scholarship with an important element of democratic theory, the principle of affected interests. Second, I argue that an inclusive tax policy process should have as a central goal non-domination, both in decisionmaking procedures and in substantive policies. This argument is grounded in theoretical work on competitive models of democracy, which recommends a fluid, iterative decisionmaking process, open to challenge and subject to revision, with conditions that promote democratic legitimacy.
I then explore some specific features that, I argue, should characterize democratic tax policy making in practice. I make the case for transparency as to the issues and interests at stake, and for mechanisms to ensure that decision makers are responsive and held accountable. I go on to propose framework legislation and structured delegations with democracy-strengthening requirements to move existing U.S. Federal tax policy making towards a democratically legitimate and legitimizing process that balances the contested values at stake in tax policy on an ongoing basis.
Justin Levitt (Loyola-L.A.) and Saul Levmore (Chicago) are the commentators.