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Law and Contemporary Problems. Volume 63, Number 4 (2000), p. 111-132.


A new emphasis on privatization is rippling through many fields of state policy in various countries. The restructuring of tax policy to foster a more privatized social and economic order is often overlooked as an example of this pattern. Focusing on Canada, this article argues that recent efforts to revise important facets of the income tax system are best understood through the lens of privatization. That is, Canadian tax policy increasingly discourages people from relying upon government programs or services to meet their basic welfare needs, but encourages them to rely instead upon private resources obtained through the market, or, if necessary, from family or charity. I argue that by promoting personal responsibility in this manner, the tax code is contributing to an erosion of the ideal of social citizenship and replacing it with a new model of market citizenship. While the reforms may offer immediate fiscal benefits to some, the overall effect will heighten social inequalities, with specific effects on gender inequality.

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