Tax Plus Rebate Policy
David Gordon Wilson


During 1966-1994, Wilson was a professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 1973, he created an idea for taxing energy (e.g., gasoline) in a noninflationary and progressive manner, to correct problems in the free-market allocation of limited resources.

Basically, a government would collect a tax on sales of energy, then monthly rebate equally to taxpayers the average amount of tax collected. This policy would reward those who consumed less than the average amount of energy, and discourage consumption of higher-than-average amounts of energy.

As shown below, Wilson presented this novel idea in a number of places in the 1970s, to encourage governments to use this idea. Unfortunately, beginning in mid-December 1973 and continuing today, a number of people advocated this idea as their own, without properly attributing the idea to Wilson. According to rules of academic integrity at MIT — and many other universities — this is a kind of plagiarism.

Table of Contents

  1. News article in a Providence, Rhode Island newspaper, 2 Dec 1973.
  2. News article in the Quincy, Massachusetts Patriot Ledger, 4 December 1973. This copy was sent to Wilson by Joe H[name not decipherable].   The report in this article and in the previous Rhode Island article came from a press release from Wilson at MIT and distributed on 30 Nov 1973.
  3. Op-ed by Wilson in the Christian Science Monitor on 15 March 1974.
  4. Published testimony of Wilson before the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress on 20 May 1974.
  5. An MIT Alumni Day presentation by Wilson on 3 June 1974.
  6. News article in New Scientist of 13 June 1974 mentions Wilson’s idea.
  7. Editorial in Fortune magazine for February 1975 that mentions Wilson’s idea in two paragraphs, as an example of the public exposure of Wilson’s idea.
  8. Op-ed by Wilson in the Christian Science Monitor on 1 May 1980.

There are many other publications by Wilson about this idea. These early publications show that Wilson was the first to publicly disclose this idea.

2 thoughts on “History

  1. David Gordon Wilson was my undergraduate adviser at MIT in the early 90s, and continues to inspire young, conscientious engineers and citizens in general. -BEL

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