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Taxing Alcohol in Africa: Reflections from International Experience

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Author Info

  • Richard M. Bird

    (International Tax Program, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto)

  • Sally Wallace

    ()
    (Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University)

Abstract

Governments exist, in part, to cope with the weaknesses of their citizens and subsist, to some extent, on the basis of those same weaknesses. Alcoholic beverages have long played a critical role on both sides of this equation. Over-indulgence in drink is a factor in crime, injury, and illness. It is also a potentially lucrative source of tax revenue. From a public policy perspective, alcohol thus has two faces: viewed from one side, it is a villain giving rise to social problems and consequently the need for public expenditure; viewed from the other, however, it is a hero riding to the rescue with copious fiscal returns. This ambivalence has, over the years, led to many hypotheses with respect to how much and how to tax alcohol and not a little hypocrisy in the public discussion of this question. This paper summarize the current state of the art of taxing alcohol around the world, and draws from international experience some implications for sub-Saharan African governments that are wrestling with the apparently eternal conundrums and trade-offs that confound alcohol tax policy everywhere.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by International Tax Program, Institute for International Business, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto in its series International Tax Program Papers with number 0304.

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Length: 50 Pages
Date of creation: Jun 2003
Date of revision: Nov 2003
Handle: RePEc:ttp:itpwps:0304

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Keywords: Alcohol taxation; excise taxes; Africa;

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References

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  1. Cutler, David M., 2002. "Health care and the public sector," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 31, pages 2143-2243 Elsevier.
  2. Pogue, Thomas F & Sgontz, Larry G, 1989. "Taxing to Control Social Costs: The Case of Alcohol," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 235-43, March.
  3. Michael Grossman, 1993. "Policy Watch: Alcohol and Cigarette Taxes," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 211-222, Fall.
  4. Michael Keen, 1998. "The balance between specific and ad valorem taxation," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 19(1), pages 1-37, February.
  5. Michael Grossman & Frank J. Chaloupka & Henry Saffer & Adit Laixuthai, 1993. "Effects of Alcohol Price Policy on Youth," NBER Working Papers 4385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Young, Douglas J & BieliĀ“nska-Kwapisz, Agnieszka, 2002. "Alcohol Taxes and Beverage Prices," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 55(N. 1), pages 57-73, March.
  7. Charles dh Parry & Bronwyn Myers & Michael Thiede, 2003. "The Case for an Increased Tax on Alcohol in South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 71(2), pages 137-145, 06.
  8. Jonathan Gruber, 2001. "Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number grub01-1.
  9. Henry Saffer & Frank Chaloupka, 1994. "Alcohol Tax Equalization and Social Costs," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 33-43, Winter.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Sijbren Cnossen, 2007. "Alcohol taxation and regulation in the European Union," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 14(6), pages 699-732, December.
  2. Olga Lucia Acosta & Richard M. Bird, 2003. "The Dilemma of Decentralization in Colombia," International Tax Program Papers 0404, International Tax Program, Institute for International Business, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.
  3. Richard M. Bird, 2013. "Foreign Advice and Tax Policy in Developing Countries," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1307, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  4. Sijbren Cnossen, 2006. "Alcohol Taxation and Regulation in the European Union," CESifo Working Paper Series 1821, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Roy Bahl, 2011. "Taxing Soft Drinks," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1106, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  6. Richard M. Bird & Sally Wallace, 2010. "Taxing Alcohol In Africa: Reflections And Updates," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1031, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  7. Richard Bird & Eric Zolt, 2007. "Tax Policy in Emerging Countries," International Tax Program Papers 0707, International Tax Program, Institute for International Business, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.
  8. Bird, Richard M. & Zolt, Eric M., 2005. "The limited role of the personal income tax in developing countries," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(6), pages 928-946, December.

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