Jennifer Bird-Pollan

“Utilitarianism and Wealth Transfer Taxation” culminates a series of articles examining the continued relevance and philosophical legitimacy of the United States wealth transfer tax system. More specifically, this piece examines the utilitarianism of John Stuart Mill and his philosophical progeny, distinguishing the philosophical approach of utilitarianism from contemporary welfare economics, primarily on the basis of the concept of “utility” in each approach. The article further explicates the utilitarian criteria for ethical action and analyzes how Mill’s utilitarianism would approach the taxation of wealth and wealth transfers, the United States federal wealth transfer system as it stands today, and structural changes that might improve the system under a utilitarian framework.

Read entire article as a PDF file →