Some Controversial Questions in the Theory of Taxation

  • Erik Lindahl
Part of the International Economic Association Series book series (IEA)


From the economic point of view, the activities of governments and local authorities are a link in the chain of man’s endeavour to satisfy his needs. To cover the cost of such activity by taxes means converting private property into public property and so more aptly serving the satisfaction of certain general needs. Like any other economic activity, this collective activity, too, must be guided by economic principles. Modern public finance and fiscal theories attempt to define those principles and to show their relations with the principles governing the private economy.


Public Service Public Expenditure Cotton Seed Public Activity Economic Principle 
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  1. 3.
    The most elaborate critiques in German are those by E. H. Vogel, “Das Gerechtigkeitsproblem in der Besteuerung, eine kritische Untersuchung zur werttheoretischen Richtung innerhalb der Finanztheorie”, Jahrbuch far Nationalökonomie and Statistik Vol. 118, p. 97 et seq. 1922Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    H. Ritschl, Theorie der Staatswirtschaft and der Besteuerung (Bonner Staattwissenchaftliche Untersuchungen, 11), Bonn and Leipzig, 1925. Both authors are adherents of an organic State theory and hence take a sceptical view of any application of value theory to the theory of public finance. However, even Emil Sax, who is the foremost representative of this latter approach, has not applied the theory of marginal utility to tax questions—see his important paper “Die Wertungstheorie der Steuer” (the central part of which is translated in this volume—Ed.), Zeitschrift far Volkswirtschaft and Sozialpolitik 1924. I do not intend to engage here in a detailed counter-critique, but shall merely reply to the most important objections as I go along.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    For a detailed analysis of the relevant problems, see J. M. Clark, Studies in the Economics of Overhead Costs, Chicago, 1923.Google Scholar

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© International Economic Association 1958

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  • Erik Lindahl

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