Document Type

Article

Abstract

Surely just about everyone in the U.S. federal income tax field has heard of Henry Simons, if only for his famous definition of “personal income.” Few realize, however, that this proponent of “drastic progression” in a broad-based income tax was also a self-described libertarian who generally denounced government economic regulation and was arguably the chief architect of the pro-free market law and economics movement at the University of Chicago. This article provides a brief intellectual history of Simons’ work, aiming in particular to explain how and why he combined these seemingly disparate sets of beliefs, and what we may learn from them today.

Date of Authorship for this Version

12-2012

Keywords

Henry Simons, income taxation, consumption taxation, libertarianism, classical liberalism

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