What citizens should know about taxation.
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I don’t care who writes a nation’s laws — or crafts its advanced treatises — if I can write its economics textbooks.

Paul A. Samuelson

This fork of civicon/samuelson is written by the participants of the literature seminar "Give n' Take (...)" at the University of Hamburg in the summer term of 2014.

If you're not in this class, please head to the upstream repo for pull requests and issues.

This book is, for now, provided only in german.

This collaborative, open-ended, as-yet-in-early-alpha-stage book (working title: samuelson) aims to equip citizens with the most important and most controversial issues they might encounter in their choice of taxes, specifically:

  1. the base of taxation, including:
    • income (from either capital and/or labor)
    • consumption (postpaid or pre-paid aka cash-flow-based)
    • wealth (net worth, or some subset thereof)
  2. the schedule of taxation, including:
    • lump-sum (or true "flat") aka. poll tax: one fixed absolute amount for all
    • proportional (often misleadingly labelled as "flat"): same percentage of (e.g.) income
    • regressive: decreasing percentage of (e.g.) income over increasing levels of income
    • progressive: increasing percentage of (e.g.) income over increasing levels of income

This is not so much an economics textbook on taxation (albeit some economic abstractions are highlighted), nor, generally, a source of falsifiable, empirical information on taxation, but a compendium of things in taxation that reasonable people might disagree on.

Following Niemeyers and Dryzeks [Niemeyer2002] operationalization of successful deliberative outcomes, this book attempts to map these issues along three dimensions:

  1. Values (or roughly, axiology): Conceptions of the good or the normatively desirable.
  2. Beliefs (or very roughly, ontology): Conceptions of the relevant units in the world (say, classes vs. individuals) and of their nature and motivation.
  3. Preferences (in our case, taxes): Choices of the various combinations of base and schedule of taxation.

The hope inspiring this book, along with Niemeyer and Dryzek [Niemeyer2002] is that, underneath it all, some (meta-) consensus on the nature of choices and (intersubjetive) consistency between values, beliefs and preferences could be found.

Contributions to this book pursue this deliberative ideal by distilling, explaining and critiquing (supposedly) consistent links between values, beliefs and preferences in/on taxation and the economy.