What Place a Morality Tax?
When you start thinking about tax it’s hard to stop. Having written my weekend post on tax and governance in Hong Kong I began to think about the extent to which taxes are warranted beyond the fair maintenance of society and its institutions. In a place like Hong Kong taxation isn’t the main form of government revenue, so it’s hard to argue for more progressive tax rates. But what about as a general principle? How do we determine the scope of taxation that best suits a given society?
Daniel Hamermesh and Joel Slemrod have been working on one answer for a while: a tax on workaholism.
The pair recently published a paper entitled “The Economics of Workaholism: We Should Not Have Worked on this Paper” in the B.E. Journal of Economic Policy & Analysis. But the effort, provocative as it might seem, didn’t cause much of a stir. The paper had already been issued in 2005 as a NBER working paper, and even then made only a passing fuss (amongst others, the Ayn Rand fan club, the Atlas Society, was predictably unimpressed).