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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 10 Fiscal Deviance Becoming Commonplace 283


283 CHAPTER 10 Fiscal Deviance Becoming Commonplace Regardless of whether it adopts a legal form or not, be it individual or collective, fiscal deviance is a phenomenon bringing politics into play, on the collective level of society. It constitutes the reverse side of taxes, seen as a contribution to public policies, resulting from the histor- ical creation of the State. The delicate equilibrium between the juridical and political principle of “obligation-tax” and the procedure of parlia- mentary consent witnesses a decline in its democratic significance owing to the debilitation of the main functions of the interventionist fiscal system. The classification of the behaviour of taxpayers by the authority into “legal” or “illegal” categories coincides less and less with the socio-political acceptance or refusal to participate in the common good. In order to escape from taxation, the economy uses the unofficial sector, tax havens and generalizes the tax optimization (planning) by means of schemes cleverly placed with regard to the law. Capitalism is deviant because of its rejection of the “contribution-tax” to public action, but, and this is the “ruse”1, it pretends to remain inside the legali- ty of the formal obligation to the State. Symmetrically, public action acknowledges the value of the market in an ideological way: it encour- ages legal tax avoidance through its incentive policy which puts States in positions of competition in the context2 of economic and financial globalization. Another process of defunctionalization of policy takes place through the fragmentation of the fiscal “categorization” of society...

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