The Reading Room

April is the Cruellest Month: A Reading List on Taxation

 We thought this week would be an appropriate time to bracket off a few readings from the OLL on the timely, and most despised, topic of taxation.
First on the list is David Hume’s brief and lively essay “Of Taxation.” Despite its brevity there is, as there always is with Hume, much to agree with and much to argue about. He praises consumption taxes, particularly luxury taxes, and denigrates “arbitrary taxes.” But how much difference is there between the two?
For a longer discussion of taxation, it’s hard to do better than Book 5, chapter 2 of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. If you’re too busy filling out your 1040 (or your 4868…you big procrastinator) to commit to the longer read, have a look at the #WealthOfTweets version of the same chapter.
If you’d like to escape the realities of this month, the woefully neglected Harriet Martineau provides five fictionalized tales about taxation in a style that should appeal to fans of Jane Austen and Anthony Trollope.
This wasn’t a panel session at the most recent APEE meeting, but it certainly could have been. Read the account of a discussion between Joseph Hiam Levy and Auberon Herbert on the topic of Taxation and Anarchism.
And it is impossible to be an American in April and not think about the Founders and their fight against taxation without representation. The 1765 Resolutions of the Stamp Act Congress are here at the OLL.
Have a cup of tea. Take every deduction you can. And enjoy your reading.