Commentaries

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from Neil Collins:

A tall story about taxation

I can't decide whether this is an elegant spoof or a serious piece of academic research. At first sight, the answer's obvious, since it starts thus:

"Should the income tax system include a tax credit for short taxpayers and a tax surcharge for tall ones?"

Yet as you read on, there's a relentless plausibility in the argument. It starts with the generally-accepted principle that tax is a way of redistributing money from the better-off to the worse off. It proceeds via studies showing that tall people (not too tall, presumably) generally do better than short ones in life's lottery, and concludes: What's wrong with taxing height?

The answer, say N Gregory Mankiw and Matthew Weinzieri (I assume they are real people) is that "if a person rejects the policy of a tax on height, he must also reject, or significantly amend, the standard utilitarian approach to optimal taxation and income redistribution."

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