Environmental Taxes in Spain: A Missed Opportunity
In this chapter we describe and assess the Spanish experience with environmental taxes in the last several decades, and formulate several suggestions for future developments in this area of tax reform. We first deal with the theoretical and policy contexts for environmental taxes and the so-called green tax reforms, to proceed with an enumeration of actions by the different levels of government in Spain . We show how the central and local governments' stand has not been favorable to the use of these tax instruments due to political beliefs and legal constraints, which have led to a poor energy and environmental performance in comparative European terms. At the same time, the lack of interest of central and local governments in such taxes has fostered an intense regional design and implementation in this field, mainly on emissions to air and waters. These applications share positive and negative aspects, as they contribute to internalize negative environmental effects, but often do so in an inefficient way with a clear revenue-raising component. We conclude that a serious and comprehensive use of environmental taxes in Spain should take into account optimal jurisdictional allocation and the presence of new regulatory approaches in environmental policies, with a focus on some specific fields such as waste, transport and tourism.
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