|Credit: Carol Highsmith/LC|
This article highlights the influence of historical Anglo-American tax law developments on the formation of new political institutions and laws. In critical periods of English and U.S. history, individuals rebelled against arbitrary royal taxes. In turn, they demanded new tax laws that became embedded in documents from the Magna Carta to the English Bill of Rights to the Declaration of Independence that promoted democratic constraints on the use of state power to assess and collect taxes. Over time, the idea that individuals are entitled to equal treatment under the law, and possess inalienable human rights, emerged in part as a result of these tax law developments. The discussion in this article supports the view that pragmatic concerns over property and taxation drove important English and American political and legal reforms.