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Going Where the Money Is: Strategies for Taxing Economic Elites in Unequal Democracies

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  • Fairfield, Tasha
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    Abstract

    How can policymakers circumvent obstacles to taxing economic elites? This question is critical for developing countries, especially in Latin America where strengthening tax capacity depends significantly on tapping under-taxed, highly-concentrated income and profits. Drawing on diverse literatures and extensive fieldwork, the paper identifies six strategies that facilitate enactment of modest tax increases by mobilizing popular support and/or tempering elite antagonism. Case studies from Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia illustrate the effect of these strategies on the fate of tax reform initiatives. The analysis builds theory on tax politics and yields implications for research on reform coalitions and gradual institutional change.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal World Development.

    Volume (Year): 47 (2013)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 42-57

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:47:y:2013:i:c:p:42-57

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/worlddev

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    Keywords: comparative politics; Latin America; economic elites; inequality; tax reform; politics of policymaking;

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    1. Stefanie Stantcheva & Emmanuel Saez & Thomas Piketty, 2012. "Optimal Taxation of Top Labor Incomes: A Tale of Three Elasticities," 2012 Meeting Papers 78, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Richard M. Bird & Eric M. Zolt, 2005. "Redistribution via Taxation: The Limited Role of the Personal Income Tax in Developing Countries," International Tax Program Papers 0508, International Tax Program, Institute for International Business, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.
    3. Saez, Emmanuel, 2001. "Using Elasticities to Derive Optimal Income Tax Rates," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(1), pages 205-29, January.
    4. Goni, Edwin & Lopez, J. Humberto & Serven, Luis, 2008. "Fiscal redistribution and income inequality in Latin America," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4487, The World Bank.
    5. Thandika Mkandawire, 2010. "On Tax Efforts and Colonial Heritage in Africa," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(10), pages 1647-1669.
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