LAW 5909: Critical Tax Theory Seminar - 2181

Critical Tax Theory Seminar
Class Term:
Fall Term 2017-2018
Catalog Number:
Class Number:


2 (2 Contact, 0 Field)
Graduation Requirements:
"W" Writing
Limited Enrollment - 3rd Year Priority
Full Year Course:
Standard Courses

Grading Details

The grade for this course will be based on a series of short papers reacting to the assigned readings (80%) and class participation, including guiding the discussion of at least one class session (20%).


“Mainstream” tax scholarship views the tax laws through a purely economic lens. In this seminar, we will challenge this generally accepted view of taxation and tax policy by exploring the tax laws from a “critical” perspective. Critical tax scholarship chafes at the constraints of the dominant, economic perspective and actively resists the notion that our tax laws are based on “neutral” or “objective” pseudoscientific principles. Instead, critical tax scholarship has shown how this economic perspective actually works toward the erasure of difference and the homogenization of taxpayers, screening out difficult discussions of the impact of the tax laws on traditionally subordinated groups and sanitizing the discussions that do take place by reducing all taxpayers to little more than the sum of their transactions in the economic marketplace. To get a sense of the depth and breadth of the rich critical tax literature, we will undertake a survey of work that approaches tax law and policy from a less abstract/stylized perspective and that grapples with questions of why the tax laws are the way they are and what impact the tax laws have on groups that have historically been disadvantaged because of their race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class, disability, and/or immigration status.

Critical Tax Theory Seminar