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The Currency of Taxation


In its canonical rendition, income taxation aspires to achieve the sometimes-conflicting goals of maximizing social welfare and promoting distributive justice. We do not usually think about tax law as participating in the formation of our identities, shaping the ways in which we perceive ourselves, or influencing how we interact with others. I argue, however, that income tax is a powerful social instrument that plays an important role in the construction of our identities and interactions with one another. Income tax law, I claim, simultaneously reflects and shapes our identities, self-perceptions, and social interactions in various contexts, including within our families and communities, as well as our sense of social solidarity and participation in political institutions.

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