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The Tax Code as an Emergent Phenomenon

Jeremy Horpedahl

A chapter in Emergence, Entanglement, and Political Economy, 2021, pp 103-110 from Springer

Abstract: Abstract Tax systems are the primary means of financing government spending and activity. Public finance economists have developed a number of rules and principles over time for optimal tax practices. However, few governments rely primarily, if at all, on these rules and principles in their tax code. I argue that this is because tax codes are emergent phenomena, and a snapshot of the tax code at any moment reveals the outcome of an ongoing process to satisfy the desires of many competing interest groups. Furthermore, tax reform, an attempt to “clean up” a messy tax code, is itself an emergent process. Knowing this helps us understand why tax reform processes rarely move tax codes closer to the economists’ ideal.

Keywords: Emergence; Tax code; Tax reform (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-56088-1_8

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Handle: RePEc:spr:stpchp:978-3-030-56088-1_8