Abstract The concepts of Horizontal Equity and Vertical Equity were coined by the economist Richard A. Musgrave in the 1950s. Given a tax base, such as income or consumption, Horizontal Equity (HE) requires that people in equal positions should be treated equally, whereas Vertical Equity (VE) considers how differently should people in different positions be treated. … Continue reading A Genealogy of the Principle of Horizontal Equity
Taxation is one of the fundamental topics in property right theory, but it is rather neglected one until quite recently. Today there are fervent arguments advanced in philosophical academia on what kind of, in any, taxation is justifiable, largely owing to Liam Murphy and Thomas Nagel’s The Myth of Ownership. In this controversial book, they claims that there are no such things as a morally legitimate right to pretax property or natural property rights and that taxation never infringes upon property rights because they are only institutionally created by governmental decree. Murphy and Nagel’s main target is Richard Epstein’s opposite libertarian or classical liberal view on tax. Epstein likens taxation to public expropriation or eminent domain and argues for proportionate income tax.
Here, after concurring with Epstein’s view on private property with some important qualifications, I critically examine Murphy and Nagel’s statist property theory and claim that their overall egalitarianism is not argued for but merely presupposed. I conclude that estate tax is more justifiable kind of tax from the natural rights libertarian perspective than both income tax and consumption tax, which are the most common form of taxation today. I also claim this conclusion is consistent with the natural reading of the Japanese Constitution.