32 U. Miami L. Rev. 23 (1977-1978)
Do We Want a Wealth Tax in America; Isaacs, Barry L.

handle is hein.journals/umialr32 and id is 39 raw text is: Do WE WANT A WEALTH TAX IN AMERICA?
BARRY L. ISAACS*
The author examines the arguments for and against a tax on
individual's wealth, and coneludeq that the economic and admin-
istrative detriments of such a tax would outweigh the benefits.
I.  IN TRODU CTION  ............. . .. . ........ ........ ..
11.  THE  CLARK  PROPOSAL  .................................
III. CONSTITUTIONALITY OF A WEALTH TAX .................
IV. WEALTH AND THE WEALTHY: SOME STATISTICS ....................
V. GENERAL PRINCIPLES: THE CONTROVERSY ........................
A.  Argum  ents  for  a  W ealth  Tax  ................................
B.  Arguments  Against a  Wealth  Tax  ..........................
VI. ADMINISTRATIVE PROBLEMS ATTENDANT TO A WEALTH TAX .........
A .  In trodu ction  ...............................................
B.  Threshold  Level and  Assessment Costs  .....................
C .  D iscovery  of  A ssets  .........................................
D .  V aluation  of  A ssets  ........................... .............
VII. ECONOMIC ASPECTS OF A WEALTH TAX ...........................
V III.  C ON CLU SION   ............................ .......................

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I.  INTRODUCTION
The idea of instituting a wealth' tax in America, whereby an
annual tax is imposed on the entire value of an individual's assets
less his liabilities, has hitherto received little serious discussion in
this country.' This neglect may be changing, however, particularly
in the light of its adoption in such diverse countries as Switzerland,
India, Sweden, Columbia, Ceylon, Pakistan, Japan,3 Germany,
Denmark, and Luxembourg.4 In addition, the present governments
of England and France have also expressed considerable interest in
the idea, with the expectation that such a tax will be introduced
quite soon.'
* Member of the Illinois and Missouri Bars.
1. Everyone has a notion, sufficiently correct for common purposes, of what is meant
by wealth. J.S. MILL, PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY 1 (7th ed. 1871). We really, and
justly, look upon a person as possessing the advantage of wealth, not in proportion to the
useful and agreeable things of which he is in the actual enjoyment, but to his command over
the general fund of things useful and agreeable; the power he possesses of providing for any
exigency, or obtaining any object of desire. Id. at 4.
2. W. VICKREY, AGENDA FOR PROGRESSIVE TAXATION 366 (1947). See also R. GOODE, THE
INDIVIDUAL INCOME TAX 11-57 (rev. ed. 1976).
3. Japan adopted a net wealth tax in 1950 but repealed it in 1953. Tanabe, The Taxation
of Net Wealth, 14 INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND STAFF PAPERS 124.
4. Id.
5. See Wealth Tax, Cmnd. No. 5704 (1974); Select Committee on a Wealth Tax, Session
1974-75, H.C. JOUR. 696, I to IV (Nov. 1975); Prest, The Select Committee on a Wealth Tax,

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