Taxation in utopia

Utopian Studies 19 (2):313 - 331 (2008)

Abstract
Utopias of the right and the left offer different justifications for taxation and propose different tax systems. Here, utopian proposals are analysed and evaluated from two perspectives: the "ideal" form of taxation (visible, equitable, and non-avoidable), and the democratic perspective (would people willingly consent to it?). Pre-taxation, favoured by left-wing utopias, raises problems from a democratic standpoint while right-wing utopias assert that taxation must be voluntary but are over-confident that "voluntary government financing" would provide a safety-net for poorer members of society. In the conclusion, I argue that there is more at stake than the left/right dispute. The different attitudes to utopian taxation are indicative of markedly different conceptions of society.
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