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Taxation, the State and Society

The Fiscal Sociology of Interventionist Democracy


Marc Leroy

This book investigates the relationship between taxation, the State and society in democracy. Fiscal sociology is a broad social science in terms of its disciplines: law, economics, sociology, political science, management, economics, psychology etc. are mobilized. Fiscal sociology is general because it tackles a wide range of problems: genesis, development and crisis of the State, policy factors (ideas, institutions, division of left and right, lobbying etc.), vote-catching of the ruling elite, resilience of the welfare State, neo-liberal ideology of market efficiency, impact of capitalist globalization, democratic political choices and constraints on the functions of the interventionist State etc. It is empirical in terms of understanding the financing of public action: social division of society by the tax policy, growth of public expenditure, bureaucratic labelling of the tax deviance, budget performance, rationality of taxpayers, complex rules etc. It analyses the incoherence of a societal regulation of globalization: redistribution and inequalities of incomes, tax competition between the States, tax havens, tax planning and relocations of the multinational groups, action of the European Union, the OECD etc. It studies the conditions for a tax citizenbased conception of a democratic social contract.


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CHAPTER 2 The Founders of Fiscal Sociology 51


51 CHAPTER 2 The Founders of Fiscal Sociology Fiscal sociology originates from two intellectual movements, made up of an Austrian and an Italian School. In Austria, Rudolf Goldscheid proposes the term Finanzsoziologie in his book Staatssozialismus oder Staatskapitalismus, published in 1917. In Die Krise des Steuersstaats (1918), Joseph Alois Schumpeter welcomes and discusses this new approach1 to the budget, defined as “the skeleton of the State once stripped of its deceitful ideologies”. The reflection of the two authors focuses on the crisis affecting the tax State. Following a historical approach, it paves the way for the new social science of finance, which Fritz Karl Mann enriches by emphasizing the socio-political functions of taxation. The Italian founders of fiscal sociology adhere to the development of a finance science including the study of its economic, political and sociological dimensions.2 Pareto, one of the important thinkers of the Italian School, taught in Lausanne, but his influence on fiscal sociology made itself felt mainly in Italy through his disciples Borgatta, Griziotti, Murray, Sensini and, more distantly, through Scotto. Three other au- thors, not directly linked to Pareto, stand out: Conigliani, Puviani and Montemartini. The economic approach refers to pure economics, to marginalism, to “hedonism”3, whereas the socio-political approach, which founds the Italian fiscal sociology, supports the questioning of the elite from Machiavelli. The economic approach also proposes original reflections on public goods, the nature of the State, the tax illusion etc. The Italian School is not homogeneous, even though the distinction between the...

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