Serena Sileoni

Ability-to-Pay Principle between Tax Obligations and Balanced Budget

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Fiscal Obligation; Ability-to-pay Principle; Balanced Budget; Power to Tax; Constitutional Justice.

The article analyses the Constitutional Court's contribution in interpreting the meaning of the fiscal obligation and in identifying the limits of a proper exercise of the power to tax. Art. 53 Const. is the cornerstone of the fiscal obligation in the Italian system. The provision has been written in a way that leaves ample degree of discretion to the legislator. Such wording has allowed, during the years, an expansion of the power to tax. In turn, the ability-to-pay clause has not proved able to provide a strong counterbalance to such a wide degree of discretion, except in cases of unequal fiscal treatment. The author asks whether the reform of Art. 81 Const., by introducing the balanced budget principle, could be useful for a new conceptualization of the fiscal obligation, where spending power is better balanced with the interests of current and future taxpayers. Analysis of the more recent constitutional case-law regarding spending-cuts suggests a sensitivity for the reasons of a balanced budget, also in an intergenerational perspective.

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