Edited by Yariv Brauner and Miranda Stewart
Chapter 9: Internation equity and human development
When we speak of ‘equity’ in tax policy circles, what usually springs to mind is interindividual equity; that is, the concern within a tax system of taxing similarly situated taxpayers similarly (‘horizontal’ equity) and taxing differently situated taxpayers in an appropriately differentiated fashion (‘vertical’ equity). In their seminal essay, Richard and Peggy Musgrave approached tax equity from a broader perspective and considered how the international context both complicates questions of inter- individual equity and ‘creates the additional problem of equity among states and nations’. The Musgraves had earlier labeled this latter problem – and titled their 1972 essay discussing it – ‘inter-nation equity’. In that essay, the Musgraves added a new dimension to the discussion of tax equity by viewing the concept through an international lens. In this chapter, I add a new dimension to the Musgraves’ discussion of tax equity, building on my earlier work critiquing the US domestic tax equity debate. There, I viewed tax equity through a critical lens and highlighted the debate’s overweening focus on the economic dimension of individuals. Here, I lay that same critical lens over the Musgraves’ international lens in considering the role that tax equity might play in advancing human development. Strong parallels exist between the US domestic tax equity debate and the internation equity debate. In this chapter, I first observe how discussions of internation equity track established notions of inter- individual equity. Internation equity has distinctly ‘horizontal’ and ‘vertical’ aspects to it, and the ‘vertical’ aspect of internation equity – like its interindividual equity counterpart – focuses entirely on the economic dimension of people
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