This paper examines how progress in genetics' specifically, the proliferation of knowledge about the human genome' may influence the feasibility and desirability of a tax that is based on individual human endowments or ability. The paper explores various forms that such a genetic endowment tax-and-transfer regime might take and identifies some of the benefits and costs of such a regime. The authors take no position on whether a genetic endowment tax would be desirable or not. However, one contribution of the paper is to observe that current law in the U.S., which restricts the use of genetic information by insurers and employers, is equivalent to a form of genetic endowment tax. The paper also notes that, in the absence of a government-mandated transfer policy with respect to genetic endowments, private insurance markets may arise to fill the gap, allowing individuals to purchase insurance against the possibility of a bad genetic draw.


Science and Technology Law | Tax Law

Date of this Version

November 2007