Our Selfish Tax Laws
Toward Tax Reform That Mirrors Our Better Selves
252 pp., 6 x 9 in,
- Published: October 2, 2018
- Publisher: The MIT Press
- Published: September 7, 2018
- Publisher: The MIT Press
Why tax law is not just a pocketbook issue but a reflection of what and whom we, as a society, value.
Most of us think of tax as a pocketbook issue: how much we owe, how much we'll get back, how much we can deduct. In Our Selfish Tax Laws, Anthony Infanti takes a broader view, considering not just how taxes affect us individually but how the tax system reflects our culture and society. He finds that American tax laws validate and benefit those who already possess power and privilege while starkly reflecting the lines of difference and discrimination in American society based on race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, immigration status, and disability. Infanti argues that instead of focusing our tax reform discussions on which loopholes to close or which deductions to allow, we should consider how to make our tax system reflect American ideals of inclusivity rather than institutionalizing exclusion.
After describing the theoretical and intellectual underpinnings of his argument, Infanti offers two comparative case studies, examining the treatment of housing tax expenditures and the unit of taxation in the United States, Canada, France, and Spain to show how tax law reflects its social and cultural context. Then, drawing on his own work and that of other critical tax scholars, Infanti explains how the discourse surrounding tax reform masks the many ways that the American tax system rewards and reifies privilege. To counter this, Infanti urges us to work together to create a society with a tax system that respects and values all Americans.
Infanti moves past taxes due to a vision of the tax system as a prism through which societal values are expressed and through which some citizens and noncitizens are devalued. A critical tax scholar and a theoretically grounded comparativist, he has created a lively read that is both insightful and exciting.
Carolyn C. Jones, Orville L. and Ermina D. Dykstra Chair in Income Tax Law and Dean Emerita, University of Iowa College of Law
Anthony Infanti's important new book enhances our understanding of the social meaning and consequences of taxation.
Anne Alstott, Jacquin D. Bierman Professor in Taxation, Yale Law School
This outstanding book is the first to consider the US tax system from a broad social perspective. Tax is not a neutral or technical subject; it lies at the core of the relationship between citizen and state. Every student of American politics should read this insightful and important contribution.
Reuven Avi-Yonah, Irwin I. Cohn Professor of Law, University of Michigan
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. The book is highly readable and engaging.
Kim Brooks, Purdy Crawford Chair in Business Law, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University