Professor Goldburn P. Maynard, Jr.: “Inequality & Taxation.”

By Maren Hendricks February 15, 2024

“Inequality is a complicated, unsolvable paradox,” Indiana University assistant professor of business law and ethics Goldburn P. Maynard, Jr. warned at BYU Law’s Black History Month lecture. Indeed, inequality is inherent in our world, Maynard observed – “look at nature!” Trying to create greater equality creates tension because the leveling requires treating people differently. “I’m not going to pretend that inequality and wealth distribution are easy issues,” he admitted. Does improving equality mean that everyone should have the same starting point? The same resources? The same opportunities?

Taxation is an imperfect but powerful tool for redistributing wealth to promote greater resource equality. Professor Maynard championed several “big idea” tax policies that are difficult politically, such as a higher inheritance tax. Other policies that have been proposed to remedy inequality are are cost-prohibitive, such as ensuring a universal minimum “inheritance” for all, or they are constitutionally problematic, such as race-based opportunities. Yet, Maynard pointed to the earned income tax credit and the expanded child tax credit as successes that demonstrate progress. “This is ultimately political will. Greater equality is not impossible, but it’s a dance.”