REBELLION, RASCALS, & REVENUE: Tax follies and wisdom through the ages | Michael Keen & Joel Slemrod, Princeton University Press, 511.
Accomplishing the impossible, this pair of authors make a 500-page treatise on the history, approach, and impact of taxation entertaining and densely informative.
This tome marches through well-organized historical vignettes of approaches to taxation from ancient times to the present, with the vast majority of material focused on the past 400 years.
The book covers, amongst many follies, those of taxing windows as a proxy for wealth, bachelorhood to discourage it, the longstanding tax on communities as a whole, and weaves in lessons from today’s VAT and consumption taxes.
You’ll learn figures from Thomas Paine to Adam Smith, who spent time as tax collectors while making a case against their abuse, along with tales of murder and mayhem intertwined with tax policy.
This book was a labor of passion for the pair of academics and tax analyst authors. However, they produced a historical framework that should encourage reading for every high school student and mandatory review by every officeholder.