Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Crawford Reviews Infanti's Our Selfish Tax Laws

Bridget J. Crawford (Pace) & Ashley Unangst (J.D. 2020, Pace), A Picture of Society with Critical Tax Theory As Its Interpreter, 41 J. Am. Tax'n Ass'n 128 (2019) (reviewing Anthony Infanti (Pittsburgh), Our Selfish Tax Laws: Toward Tax Reform That Mirrors Our Better Selves (MIT Press 2018)):

Our Selfish Tax LawsProfessor Infanti's work has long explored issues of bias and difference in the U.S. context, and with this book, he places his study of U.S. tax law in a comparative context with Canada, France and Spain. He uses the lenses of housing policy and the taxable unit to illustrate each country’s different values. Professor Infanti’s book illustrates the myriad ways that the U.S. tax law both supports and is a constituent part of a discriminatory legal system that treats people differently because of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status, gender identity, and disability. In that way, the tax laws are a “mirror” of the society we currently have. But Professor Infanti goes a step further and calls readers see, in the reflection of the tax laws, the possibility of our “better selves.” Professor Infanti recognizes the extraordinary expressive value of the tax law; he imagines a system of collection, enforcement and public spending that benefits all people and reflects the nation’s highest and best values of equal opportunity, human dignity and shared community. ...

The book is impeccably researched and written. It is easy for both tax specialists and non-specialists to read. The book open readers’ minds and helps them engage with big-picture questions about why—beyond revenue-raising—a nation’s tax laws are important. After reading this book, no one can feel the same way about paying the annual tax bill due each April 15. It may never be a day for celebration, but it certainly should be a day of aspiration—a day we each recommit to creating and supporting a society that achieves justice for all.

Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink


"Infanti's spectacular contribution will leave you believing not only in the power of tax law but also in your ability to use it as a tool for change."

I, of course, reject this premise. For those who want to tinker with the Tax Code, can you please ask yourself one question? Did the Tax Code directly cause whatever inequity you perceive exists? I'm sure, for example, Mr. Scorse would say capital gains taxation causes inequities. While this may be a secondary effect, isn't the real inequity the reality some have the resources to earn capital gains, while others don't? Frankly, I don't have a problem with this or any other perceived inequity. But if you do, can you please stop making the Tax Code more and more complex? I suggest direct confiscation is more intellectually honest.

Posted by: Dale Spradling | Mar 11, 2020 8:41:26 AM

"Infanti's spectacular contribution will leave you believing not only in the power of tax law but also in your ability to use it as a tool for change."

Unfortunately it's already been used as a tool for change: to redistribute income upward.

Posted by: Gerald Scorse | Mar 10, 2020 6:33:32 AM