The birth of tax as a legal discipline

Hans Gribnau, H. Vording

Research output: Working paperDiscussion paperOther research output


Adam Smith’s taxation maxims found fertile ground in the Netherlands in the early nineteenth century—a time of national tax reform. But as the century drew to an end, progressive liberal thinking parted from its British inspiration. John Stuart Mill’s ‘equality of sacrifice’ was rejected by Nicolaas Pierson, the leading political economist of his age, as being too individualistic. Instead, the German Historical School with its idea of an organic relation between state and citizens gave guidance, especially to Pieter Cort van der Linden’s work on taxation. Borrowing from the German concept of Rechtsstaat, he laid the foundations for tax as a legal discipline.
Original languageEnglish
Place of
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2017


  • Adam Smith, taxation, the Netherlands, nineteenth century, progressive liberal thinking, John Stuart Mill, Pierson, German Historical School, Pieter Cort van der Linden, Rechtsstaat, tax complexity, legal doctrine.


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