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Corporate tax policy under the Labour government, 1997–2010


  • Giorgia Maffini

    () (Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation)


This paper reviews and evaluates corporate tax policy under the 1997–2010 Labour government. During this period the government implemented a classical rate-cut-cum-base-broadening tax policy for large companies. Tax policy for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is more difficult to characterize: in the first two terms, rates were cut more frequently than for large businesses and the base was narrowed, but in the government’s third term, statutory rates for SMEs were increased. Extensive reforms of dividends and capital gains tax at the individual and corporate level have also been implemented: in 1998, the imputation system was abolished and in 2009, foreign dividends became exempt for corporate income tax purposes. A comparison of the statutory and effective rates shows that the UK has lost some ground to the OECD since 2003–4, fundamental reforms of dividends and capital gains taxation have aligned the UK to its competitors and to EU law. We find that the overall effect of the Labour’s tax policy on aggregate investment may have been small, for three reasons. Increases in real investment between 1997 and 2007 are largely explained by the economic cycle, while the reduction in the tax component of the user cost of capital was small. Moreover, the increase in aggregate investment was led by an exceptional surge in investment in structures driven by a real estate boom. Finally, we note that most investment was undertaken by large companies, and therefore it was not affected by the large set of tax reforms focusing on SMEs.

Suggested Citation

  • Giorgia Maffini, 2013. "Corporate tax policy under the Labour government, 1997–2010," Working Papers 1302, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
  • Handle: RePEc:btx:wpaper:1302

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Saez, Emmanuel, 2013. "Optimal progressive capital income taxes in the infinite horizon model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 61-74.
    2. Mary O'Mahony & Marcel P. Timmer, 2009. "Output, Input and Productivity Measures at the Industry Level: The EU KLEMS Database," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(538), pages 374-403, June.
    3. Devereux, Michael P. & Griffith, Rachel, 1998. "Taxes and the location of production: evidence from a panel of US multinationals," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 335-367, June.
    4. Chirinko, Robert S. & Fazzari, Steven M. & Meyer, Andrew P., 1999. "How responsive is business capital formation to its user cost?: An exploration with micro data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 53-80, October.
    5. Gordon, Roger H, 1986. "Taxation of Investment and Savings in a World Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1086-1102, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Godar, Sarah. & Paetz, Christoph. & Truger, Achim., 2014. "Progressive tax reform in OECD countries : perspectives and obstacles," ILO Working Papers 994855103402676, International Labour Organization.
    2. repec:ilo:ilowps:485510 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Sarah Godar & Christoph Paetz & Achim Truger, 2015. "The scope for progressive tax reform in the OECD countries. A macroeconomic perspective with a case study for Germany," Revue de l'OFCE, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 0(5), pages 79-117.
    4. Giorgia Maffini & Jing Xing & Michael P Devereux, 2016. "The impact of investment incentives: evidence from UK corporation tax returns," Working Papers 1601, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.

    More about this item


    corporate tax; capital gains; dividends; investment; cost of capital;

    JEL classification:

    • G35 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Payout Policy
    • G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H32 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Firm


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