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Res05


Tax matters: are rules made to be broken?
Convenors:
Robin Smith (University of Oxford)
Nicolette Makovicky (University of Oxford)
Chairs:
Miranda Sheild Johansson (University College London)
Discussant:
Matti Erasaari (University of Helsinki)
Stream:
Resistance
Format:
Panel

Short abstract:

This panel investigates the ways that tax matters in society, focusing on the making and breaking of tax rules. We question the assumption that taxation is always just, and challenge contributors to examine how tax rules and their contestation may be produced and enacted beyond the state's realm.

Long abstract:

Tax is an inextricable part of life. Tax matters to families, businesses, and states in that it reflects economic and social values. It highlights the inner workings of power, tensions between state and society, and the fault lines between different social, economic, and ethnic groups. Its paper documentation and digital processes create tax matter - the materialization of rules and the social contract. This panel seeks contributions investigating the myriad ways that tax matters in society, focusing on the making and breaking of tax rules. We question the assumption that taxation is necessarily just, or that ‘breaking’ tax rules is necessarily about compliance. While rules guide taxation, they require citizen consent. People may break the rules of taxation regimes perceived as unjust. ‘Breaking the rules’ when it comes to tax can thus equally reference the state breaking the social contract from the citizen’s perspective. Indeed, we challenge contributors to examine how tax rules – and their contestation – may be produced and enacted beyond the state’s realm. Rules are an outcome of social practice, not just policy, and thus tax ‘rules’ are also about what a group of people deems the right way to do something. Thus, we ask, how does making and breaking tax rules form part of everyday economic, social, or religious life? How are tax rules related to notions of common sense and public secrets? Can we say that ‘rules are made to be broken’ when it comes to tax?