Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Height Tax

Here is the abstract of a new paper by Greg Mankiw:
Should the income tax system include a tax credit for short taxpayers and a tax surcharge for tall ones? This paper shows that the standard utilitarian framework for tax policy analysis answers this question in the affirmative. This result has two possible interpretations. One interpretation is that individual attributes correlated with wages, such as height, should be considered more widely for determining tax liabilities. Alternatively, if policies such as a tax on height are rejected, then the standard utilitarian framework must in some way fail to capture our intuitive notions of distributive justice.
The paper's interesting tax suggestion is due to the well-documented finding that tall people tend to have higher wages. Any ideas on why that correlation may exist? Here is a link to the full paper.

What do you think? Should tall people be taxed more to even out the playing field? I may be biased, but I would be a strong supporter of tax credits for the short...


Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting concept. I would be willing to believe that taller people make more money in jobs in the buisness world. To be tall represents some idea that the person is strong, smart, and has leadership qualities. I want to know who funded the money to research this topic. I do not think heigh should be a factor when determining tax amounts becuase it sounds crazy. It would be supporting the idea that people can make excuses for why they do not perform at their best. This would go agaisnt the protestent work ethic that this country was founded on( thats a little extreme, I know)


Anonymous said...

I agree with Seth that it definitly makes sense that tall people make more money. They are usually given more attention/respect because of their physical appearance. However, does it really make that much of a difference? At first I didn't believe that it made a noticable difference but after reading some of the article I found that “an individual who is 72 in. tall could be expected to earn $5,525 [in 2002 dollars] more per year than someone who is 65 in. tall, even after controlling for gender, weight, and age.” That's kind of a big I think on one level the tax changes would make sense. But I can't think of way to control or quantify the taxes. It would be too random and subjective, and there are always exceptions. So I kind of wish they could change the taxes but I don't think realistically it's possible and wouldn't make that much sense.

-John Schmidt

Anonymous said...

I think the height tax thing is kind of rediculous. The argument is based on the idea that tall people on average make more money, so they should be taxed more. Assuming that is true than light skinned immigrants should also be taxed more, becuase they make more money than dark skinned immigrants. - (thats the link for the article about light skinned immigrants earning more. They also talk about height in the article too) There are alot of factors, that on average affect earnings such as good looks. However, height, skin tone and good looks don't always affect income. If you start taxing all tall people (even the poor ones), it would just be unfair. By taxing based on income, we are already bypassing the problem of unfairly taxing poor tall people.
-jacob Hormes

Anonymous said...

I think that the idea of tax credits and surcharges depending on height is rediculous. Although there may be some correlation it is not true in all cases and people shouldn't be taxed just because of their height. The playing field does not need to be evened out for different heights. People aren't made to be exactly the same, so not everyone deserves to be equally paid. Also, taller people usually eat more, so a slightly higher wage is cancelled out by their necessity to consume more. I agree with Seth and John that taller people make more because tehy look bigger stronger and smarter, but I also agree with Jacob in that taxing based on height will lead to more taxes based only on appearance and physical traits that are uncontrollable. It could even lead to a personality tax. People could be forced to take a standardized personality tax and be taxed more if they appear overly aggressive or have other negative character traits because they are harder to work with and their negative qualities can bring down the productivity of other workers.
Emily S.