A Tax Crit Identity Crisis? Or Tax Expenditure Analysis, Deconstruction, and the Rethinking of a Collective Identity


forthcoming in the Whittier Law Review


Critical tax theory, much like its non-tax critical counterparts, has been consistently marginalized by mainstream tax academics. To date, tax crits have accepted and acquiesced in this marginalization. In this article, I question the idea that tax crits are outsiders as well as the notion that critical tax theory is a marginal form of tax policy literature. My primary purpose in questioning this conventional wisdom is to get tax crits to think critically about the collective identity of the critical tax movement.

I question the outsider status of critical tax theory by essentially turning the mainstream into the marginal (or the marginal into the mainstream, depending upon your perspective). I accomplish this by reconceptualizing a quite mainstream tax concept - tax expenditure analysis - as an application of critical (and, more particularly, deconstructionist) techniques to the Internal Revenue Code. Once the mainstream (i.e., tax expenditure analysis) has been recast as the marginal (i.e., deconstructionist analysis), the distinction between the two essentially deconstructs itself, calling into question the justification for attaching significant weight to the distinction between the mainstream and the marginal. This opens the way for tax crits to think critically about their marginality and what role it should play in the collective identity of the critical tax movement.


Sexuality and the Law | Tax Law

Date of this Version

July 2004

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