Skatteaversion: - en retssociologisk og skattepolitisk analyse med hovedvægten på indkomstopgørelsen

Research output: Book/ReportBookResearch


The title of the dissertation is »Tax-aversion – a Sociology of Law and Tax Policy Analysis with Emphasis on the Tax Base«. Sociology of law is the basis of the dissertation, which makes it natural to apply a broad social scientific approach. The superior purpose of the dissertation is to examine whether certain forms of income particularly give rise to aversion. The analyses of the problems are based on the theory about system and lifeworld of the German social scientist and philosopher Jürgen Habermas. The thesis put forward is that if a certain form of income is conceived as originating from the lifeworld, taxation will particularly cause tax-aversion. This thesis is called the thesis of aversion.The thesis of aversion consists of two parts. According to the first part, it is possible to point out one single reason why the taxation of certain forms of income particularly gives rise to aversion, namely when the income is considered as originating from the lifeworld. According to the second part of the thesis the total amount of aversion can be reduced by tax exemption of income originating from the lifeworld. However, the exemption may lead to other taxpayers’ feeling of being unfairly treated and thus cause tax-aversion. After all, according to the second part of the thesis, the total amount of aversion will be reduced by taking into consideration the fact that the income is conceived as originating from the lifeworld. The dissertation argues in favour of considering the fairness of taxation in relation to a normative theory. »The tax ability principle« is assumed to be a principle of fairness in taxation, and therefore it has to be based on a normative theory. In the dissertation fairness is considered both on the basis of welfare economy and Habermas’ discourse ethics. Thus the »welfare economic ability principle« and the »emancipatory ability principle«, respectively, are formulated on the basis of these normative theories. Whether it should be attempted to reduce tax-aversion or not, depends on the normative theory applied. According to the welfare economic ability principle, the purpose is to maximize utility. As aversion is disutility, the right thing to do is to try to reduce aversion. However, the question whether the application of certain specific initiatives concerning reduction of tax-aversion – such as tax exemption for income originating from the lifeworld – is recommendable also depends on the unintentional effects of such initiatives on the welfare. The exemption from tax of certain forms of income causes a disallocation of resources and a horizontal inequality, and this disallocation will reduce the total welfare. Horizontal inequality in taxation is not necessarily unfair. Fairness in taxation must be evaluated according to a normative theory and only as far as horizontal inequality causes tax-aversion and an unfair share of tax burden, the wish for horizontal equality within taxation should be taken into consideration. The normative foundation of the emancipatory tax ability principle is Habermas’ discourse ethics. The essence of Habermas’ normative theories is human development and liberation from oppression, including the rules of the State as far as these rules will spoil matters of value to the citizens. Exemption from taxation may therefore be well-founded, if the taxation gives rise to aversion because it spoils matters belonging to the lifeworld. Discourse ethics as the normative foundation does not support the purpose: maximization of utility.Several things may lead to tax-aversion, but the dissertation is limited to an analysis of aversion caused by the taxation of certain forms of income. According to the thesis of aversion, it is possible to reduce aversion by an unchanged level of taxation and an unchanged share of the tax burden between low- and high-income groups. Thus, in the dissertation it is argued that it will not do to look only at the economic aspect of taxation. Tax-aversion does not alone depend on the amount of taxes and how the Government applies the yield.The dissertation discusses a.o. the development and results of the research carried on within the subject: compliance of tax law. Today this research applies to a great extent an interdisciplinary approach and rejects the assumption that the behaviour of the taxpayers can be explained just by their wish to reduce their taxes considering the risk of being disclosed and punished. One of the things revealed by this research is that the taxpayers look upon the specific acts and rules and decide whether they are fair. So it is of great importance to the taxpayers’ compliance that they find the tax rules fair. As far as the thesis of aversion is concerned, it is important to be able to establish that taxpayers look upon the specific rules and reflect on their fairness. According to the thesis of aversion it is thus the taxation of income originating from the lifeworld, which is most likely regarded as unfair. Tax exemption for a number of forms of income will, as mentioned, cause horizontal inequality. However, such tax exemption will not lead to a break of a normally existing consistence within taxation as such one does not exist. The dissertation describes how the very structure of the income tax system is one of the reasons why the taxable income cannot amount to an equal part of the taxpayers’ welfare economic income. The chapter dealing with this question applies a comparative aspect and explains how the income assessment and the tax assessment are separated in the Danish income tax system; this means that the taxable income is not applied as the basis for assessment of all the taxes constituting the personal income tax.A number of examples are studied in order to decide whether it is possible to make probable the first part of the thesis of aversion. There are two types of examples: examples based on the presumption that taxation in the selected cases particularly tends to cause aversion, and examples where existing rules result in easier terms of taxation or no taxation, and these can be understood as rules concerning income originating from the lifeworld. As far as taxation of income originating from the lifeworld is concerned, a distinction is made between taxation alone leading to aversion and taxation leading to colonialization as well, compare Habermas’ application of this term in his theory of system and lifeworld. In case taxation becomes dominating, i.e. changes conditions and relations of importance to people’s well-being within the lifeworld, the tax is colonializing. It is described how non-compliance is one way of avoiding the colonializing effect of taxation. I.e. this is the case by the so-called shadow economy, which neglects to state the value of mutual services between acquaintances. Taxation in those situations will presumably be colonializing, as it would redefine the relations of the parties involved from friendly turns with a social aspect to acquisition of income. Other examples being treated are taxation of imputed income from personal residence, taxation of skilled craftmen’s personal services, fringe benefits, transferences, e.g. in the form of grants of honour, inheritance and gifts. Fringe benefits are achieved by the wage earner by virtue of his participation on the market. Thus the basis must be that such a kind of income is not originating from the lifeworld. However, also a professional job may have aspects belonging to the lifeworld, and in case the wage earner receives fringe benefits, which are not part of his normal wage, the benefits may be looked upon as originating from the lifeworld. A number of rules of the existing Danish tax law exempt from tax: grants of honour, compensations for tort, illness, etc. A possible reason for these rules may be that such forms of income are considered as originating from the lifeworld.On the basis of the examples it is concluded that Habermas’ theory of system and lifeworld can explain why the taxation of certain forms of income in particular gives rise to aversion, as it is of decisive importance whether an income is regarded as originating from the lifeworld or is considered as resulting from one’s system action. Concerning the second part of the thesis of aversion: whether tax exemption will cause aversion to other taxpayers because they feel unfairly treated, it is explained that this depends on the degree of similarity of the taxpayers’ life-world. Thus it is not possible to give a general answer to this question, as this will depend on the form of income. By way of example, most taxpayers will probably approve of tax exemption for transfers of income as well as for the value of mutual services between cohabitants, whereas an easy taxation of inheritance and gifts presumably is less acceptable. Due to this uncertainty it will be difficult – according to the welfare economic principle – with any certainty to recommend tax exemption of income conceived as originating from the lifeworld. Several existing income tax rules may, however, be conceived as having taken this aspect into consideration, which seems to be a positive thing to do, and as far as other forms of income are concerned, e.g. the value of mutual services, tax exemption may also be recommended.According to the emancipatory tax ability principle, it is recommendable to consider if an income is regarded as originating from the lifeworld. By doing so you may ensure that rules of law will not restrict human development and threaten matters of value to the citizens. Tax is a means of the Government to solve a number of problems in society. Taxation will therefore loose its meaning and legitimacy, if it gives rise to greater problems.
Original languageDanish
PublisherDjøf Forlag
Number of pages297
ISBN (Print)87-574-0336-8
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

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