"Loopholes"

In yesterday's colloquium regarding Vanessa Williamson's Read My Lips: Why Americans Are Proud to Pay Taxes, the word "loophole" came up a lot, because it is important to people's perceptions regarding the supposed regressivity of income taxes in practice.I've always been bemused by this term, in part because I thought it derived linguistically from knotholes in wood. But apparently it derives instead from narrow vertical holes in walls from which inside defenders could shoot arrows.Tax experts generally don't use the term "loophole" among themselves, because we consider it too imprecise. We'd be more inclined to discuss tax benefits that might be "unintended," or else intended by someone but poorly rationalized, or else the product of unforeseen interactions between separate provisions or of linguistic ambiguity or formalism in the tax law, etc.I'm fairly sure I had never once used it in an article, unless…

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