Institute for Research in Economic and Fiscal issues

IREF Europe - Institute for Research in Economic and Fiscal issues

Fiscal competition
and economic freedom


IREF Workshop in Prague

The topic of the conference was the relationship between taxation and justice. We had the pleasure to present on this meeting our 2005 Essay Contest’s winners and their work.

First Prize: Petra Orogványiová

Abstract: We attempt to present a classical liberal perspective on the subject of taxation and justice. We start by reviewing the development of the notion of justice over time and across various schools of thought. We then proceed to examine John Rawls? theory of justice and its policy implications and economic theory of optimal taxation. After ?finding both approaches unsatisfactory, we defend a libertarian stand on the issue of justice. The main result of our re?ections are three criteria which we afterwards use to examine normatively di¤erent ways of taxation. We conclude by saying that current tax systems satisfy neither of these criteria and deserve being changed.

Second Prize: Daniel Pellerin

Abstract: However much may set apart Hobbes and Locke, these two progenitors of our modern intellectual tradition are in full agreement on one cardinal point, namely “that civil government is the proper remedy for the inconveniencies of the state of nature, which must certainly be great.”3 For anyone impressed with the arguments of these two and many other great thinkers, taxes must appear as more than “what we pay for civilized society,” as Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., famously put it.4 Taxes are what we pay for living in any kind of lasting peace and security at all.

Third Prize: Pierre Bessard

Abstract: Taxation has become one of the key policy challenges in most advanced countries. Demographic trends reinforce the prospective threat of increased pressure on taxpayers to fund existing welfare programs, while institutional competition between European countries and from other regions plays an increasingly decisive role in keeping governments in check. Central and Eastern European countries adopting proportional taxation systems have attracted additional investment from elsewhere and generated incentive structures conducive to entrepreneurial risk-taking. Other regions such as Asia and the United States enjoy marginally superior economic growth than many parts of Europe thanks to a less penalizing environment for production. Partly as a result, government debt – which may be viewed as deferred taxes – has reached new highs in many countries.

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