Policy Documents

The Tax Collector vs. The Constitution

James Huffman –
July 8, 2013

In this report for Hoover, the author asserts that when the government picks winners and losers in the marketplace, citizens lose out. Where taxes and regulation are the same for all similarly situated businesses, competition among states and cities can lead to net increases in jobs and tax revenues. Lower tax and regulatory costs for private competitors can make previously uneconomic enterprises viable. But inter-jurisdictional competition in the granting of special favors serves only the interests of the favored recipients, and it does so at the expense of our long cherished value of equal protection of the laws. Even if the net result in a particular state or locality is more jobs and more tax revenue, it almost certainly means fewer jobs and less tax revenue in another state or city.


James Huffman is dean emeritus and formerly the Erskine Wood Sr. Professor of Law at Lewis and Clark Law School in Oregon. He served as dean of the law school from 1993 to 2006. Huffman serves on the boards of the National Crime Victims Law Institute, the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment, the Classroom Law Project, and the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation. He is a member and former chair of the Executive Committee of the Environment and Property Rights Practice Group of the Federalist Society. His research interests include natural resource, property, environmental, and constitutional law.