The VAT laggard: a comparative history of U.S. resistance to national consumption taxes

Presented by ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

The United States is the only advanced industrial country without a value-added tax (VAT). This project explores why the U.S., unlike many other countries such as Australia, continues to reject a national consumption tax like the VAT or Goods & Services Tax, despite several attempts at adopting such a levy.

Since the VAT globally funds robust social-welfare spending in many countries, this project about "Why no US VAT" seeks to shed light on comparative beliefs about tax law, fiscal policy, and social-welfare spending.

About the Speaker

Ajay K. Mehrotra is William G. and Virginia K. Karnes Research Professor of Law at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, and an Affiliated Professor of History at Northwestern University. He is also a Research Professor and Former Director of the American Bar Foundation (ABF), an independent, non-profit research institute that focuses on the empirical and interdisciplinary study of law. He will be a Visitor at RegNet in February 2023.

His scholarship and teaching focus on legal history, tax law, and diversity in legal education and the profession. More generally, his research explores law and political economy in historical and comparative perspective, with a particular focus on tax law and policy. He also supervises independent student research and reading in tax law and policy, structured finance, and the history of American law and political economy. He is the author of Making the Modern American Fiscal State: Law, Politics and the Rise of Progressive Taxation, 1877-1929 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), and co-editor (with Isaac William Martin and Monica Prasad) of The New Fiscal Sociology: Taxation in Comparative and Historical Perspective (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009)

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Image credit: Photo by Marco Verch Professional Photographer from flickr, (CC BY 2.0)

Date and Times


Room: Seminar Room 1.13