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Title: Necessitas : a theological history of taxation
Author: Calhoun, Allen D.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7659 137X
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2019
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The thesis begins by asking why American tax policy is both attracted to and repelled by the idea of justice. Accepting the invitation of mid-twentieth-century economist Henry Simons to acknowledge that tax justice is a theological concept, the thesis seeks to excavate theological doctrines of taxation throughout Christian history in a way that can answer the presenting question. After analyzing the confusions in contemporary American tax policy (Chapter One), the thesis argues that Christian theology relativized property interests (the moral category most closely related to taxation). Taxation came to express different interests simultaneously and balanced them, while the idea of necessitas (need) emerged as the fulcrum of that balance (Chapter Two). The thesis develops the themes incipient in the early history by highlighting three salient theological moments. Thomas Aquinas clarified his predecessors' doctrines of property, resolving the tension between communal and private property through the interplay of natural and positive law (Chapter Three). In Thomas' account, the positive law of private ownership yields to the natural law substrate of communal property at the boundary between need and superabundance. Taxation can serve to implement that balance. The redistributive logic of Martin Luther's thinking extended to his political theology, as most clearly expressed in his "Preface to the Ordinance of a Common Chest" (Chapter Four), while John Calvin invoked the idea that economic inequality puts in motion both the circulation of goods and the need for redistribution of resources (Chapter Five). By way of conclusion, the thesis suggests a possible narrative connecting early modern to contemporary views on taxation. In the theological account, taxation's balancing function "legitimates" it. Modern tax theory, on the other hand, represents in some ways a return to the Greco-Roman model of tax "justification" instead of legitimacy.
Supervisor: Brock, Brian ; Simpson, Andrew Robert Craig Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Taxation ; Religion and law ; Distributive justice ; Property ; Political theology