From: Gerald A. Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Sat Jun 12 2004 - 07:27:31 EDT
----- Original Message ----- From: "Jurriaan Bendien" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Sent: Saturday, June 12, 2004 6:40 AM Subject: Taxation Marx suggests that tax is a component of commodity prices "independent of the value" of those commodities (e.g. Cap. 3, p. 892 in the Pelican edition) but the question is whether this argument can be sustained if taxation becomes an integral part of the cost-structure of production. Marx's remarks must be interpreted as saying that the value magnitudes of commodities are determined quite independently from taxes. After all, his argument is that the substance of that value, consists of the abstract labor required to produce it. But part of that value is in fact realised as an impost on sales revenue and appropriated as tax revenue, which reduces the surplus-value realised by producers as net profit. Then it could be argued that the tax levy is form (a relation of distribution) which does not affect fluctuations in values, but rather fluctuations in production prices, and the formation of production prices. But Marx suggests that this isn't the case either, because production prices relate individual output values to total output values, and these values are not the actual market prices. In that case, we can conclude only that taxation for Marx is not a relation of production, but a relation of distribution, which applies specifically only to market prices and actual gross revenues. This argument may be credible perhaps, if tax is only a small percentage of costs or revenues, a sort of faux frais of production, but if the tax impost is equal to between a quarter and half of the total market price of net new output (i.e. the total tax rate exceeds the general profit rate), then taxation has become integrated as an important part of the very cost structure of production, and begins to affect the accumulation process in very important, maybe even decisive ways. That is, it now affects both cost prices and average profits in very important ways, and must influence production prices. For Marx, however, it seems that tax is nevertheless NOT a component of the regulating production prices. The magnitudes of these production-prices are determined by labor-time performed, given an established market demand. The magnitudes of taxes by contrast are determined independently by the state, as an impost on an existing flow of sales and revenues. Levying a tax, thus already assumes the existence of regulating production-prices. But how could tax revenue then be considered a "component of surplus-value", a component of surplus-labor or surplus-product which is appropriated as tax revenue ? This is really the conceptual problem that has to be solved, and I think that Marx suggests an answer in his manuscript "Relations of production and relations of distribution" (chapter 51 of Cap. 3). J.
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