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Taxable treatment of the subsistence level of income in German Natural Law

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Natural Law has influenced German tax theories up to the present day. It has also influenced the request for the subsistence level exemption and the granting of a basic allowance, which only developed their full persuasiveness when derived from Natural Law. This paper shows that Natural Law tax theory (mid 1600s to early 1800s), based the subsistence level tax exemption on the right to live, the individualistic state contract theory and the ability-to-pay principle. It also reveals that Adam Smith's view regarding ability-to-pay as a basis for taxation was already contained in British Natural Law and in older German traditions.

Keywords: Germany; Natural Law; family taxation; subsistence minimum; taxable income

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Business Administration, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria

Publication date: 2005-11-01

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