Wednesday, September 11, 2019 - 12:30pm to 2:00pm
Solarium, FA2, Falconer Hall, 84 Queens Park


The James Hausman Tax Law and Policy Workshop 


Ilan Benshalom
The Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Recalibrating Moral Feasibility boundaries of Taxation

Wednesday September 11, 2019
12:30pm - 2:00pm
 Falconer Hall, 84 Queen's Park, Solarium(FA2)

Tax theorists have recognized the importance of linking policy proposals to different ideal theories of distributive justice such as equality of resources, maximin of primary goods, and welfarism. However, they have invested considerably less efforts in trying to engage the tax-distributive debate with a moral analysis that deals with non-ideal settings. This essay offers a new framework that enables a more effective integration of normative considerations into academic analysis the distributive dilemmas associated with existing tax systems.

The essay briefly reviews some of the relevant modern social science research dealing with how individuals view the role of the tax system in reducing inequality, and then discusses the importance and limitations of empirical research. I argue that any attempt to rely on measurable concepts such as biases and distributive preferences to normatively evaluate the distributive function of the tax system would likely be insufficient and perhaps even somewhat misleading. Instead, any moral evaluation of tax policymaking should be done with reference to a set of feasibility constraints, which explicitly recalibrate the framework of normative debate based on relevant social science findings. The essay concludes by demonstrating how empirical findings may be integrated into the normative analysis dealing with the distributive impact of taxation. 

Ilan Benshalom is a Deputy Dean and Professor in the Hebrew University Faculty of Law. He researches an array of tax issues including: theowry of the tax base, international taxation, tax and charity, tax and welfare policy. Prof Benshalom was a grantee of Chevening, Fulbright and Alon scholarships. LLB (University of Jerusalem) 2002, LL.M. (University College London) 2003, LLM (Yale Law School) 2005, JSD (Yale Law School) 2007.

If you would like more information about these workshops, please send an email to