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HOUSEHOLDS AND THE FISCAL SYSTEM

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 May 2006


Daniel N. Shaviro
Affiliation:
New York University School of Law

Abstract

One of the most vexed issues in income tax policy is how family or household status should affect tax liability. This article suggests a general approach for thinking about the treatment of households in the fiscal system generally under a utilitarian social welfare norm. The United States fiscal rules considered include those not only in the income tax but under Social Security, Medicare, and safety net programs. Among the recommendations that emerge from the analysis are (1) recognizing couples for tax and transfer purposes without limitation to those that are married, (2) reducing the fiscal system's current distributional bias in favor of one-earner couples and its discouraging work by secondary earners, and (3) providing significantly more favorable treatment of households with children than of those with similar resources but no or fewer children, without limiting this more favorable treatment, in the manner of present U.S. law, to relatively poor households.


Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2006 Social Philosophy and Policy Foundation

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Footnotes

* I am grateful to Lily Batchelder and Louis Kaplow for comments on an earlier draft.

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