Faculty Author Type

Current Faculty [David Duff]

Published In

Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence

Document Type


Publication Date



Taxation; private property


The idea that taxes involve the confiscation of private property is widely held in popular thinking and scholarly writing. This article challenges the libertarian foundations of this assumption by critically examining libertarian theories of private property and their implications for tax policy. Part II summarizes the leading libertarian theories of private property, reviewing John Locke's argument in the Second Treatise of Government and Robert Nozick's account in Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Part III examines the implications of these libertarian theories for tax policy, considering libertarian prescriptions for substantive tax measures as well as institutional arrangements that affect tax policy outcomes. Part IV criticizes libertarian theories of private property, casting doubt on tax thinking that relies on these libertarian foundations. Part V considers the implications of this critique for tax policy and tax scholarship.



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