Tax Policy and Tax Research in Canada
In: The State of Economics in Canada: Festschrift in Honour of David Slater
In a survey of tax reform in recent years, Richard Bird and Michael Smart explore the relationship between tax policy and tax research. They conclude that there have been important examples of apparent influences of research on policy. For instance, they are encouraged that the downward pressure on personal and corporate taxes has certainly been supported, if not initiated, by the increasing evidence of distortions caused by high marginal tax rates. In their view, the adoption of the GST can be explained by the acceptance of the federal government of the economic argument that Canada had to switch to a value-added tax to reduce economic distortions. On the other hand, they are disappointed that the equally convincing economic studies of the damage done by poorly-designed excise, property and payroll taxes do not seem to have had any effect. Consequently, they believe that political economy factors were probably the more dominant explanation of the tax reforms than the simple acceptance of advice from economists. Their conclusion is that if economists want to have a greater influence on policy, they need to pay more attention to the issues that motivate policymakers, including, most notably, distributional issues, and they need to write in a way, and in a forum, that will most likely come to the notice of the policy-makers.
|This chapter was published in: Patrick Grady & Andrew Sharpe (ed.) The State of Economics in Canada: Festschrift in Honour of David Slater, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, pages 59-78, 2001.|
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