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On the Political Economics of Tax Reforms

Author

Listed:
  • Micael Castanheira
  • Gaëtan J.A. Nicodème
  • Paola Profeta
  • Gaëtan J.A. Nicodeme

Abstract

There is often a gap between the prescriptions of an “optimal” tax system and actual tax systems, some of which can be neither efficient economically nor efficient at redistributing income. With a focus on personal income taxes, this paper reviews the political economics literature on tax systems and reforms to see whether political mechanisms allow us to better understand why tax systems look the way they look. Finally, we exploit a database of reforms in labour taxation in the European Union to check the determinants of all reforms, on the one hand, and of targeted reforms, on the other hand. The results fit well with political economy theories and show that political variables carry more weight in triggering reforms than economic variables. This shed light on whether and how tax reforms are achievable. It also explains why many reforms that seem economically optimal fail to be implemented.

Suggested Citation

  • Micael Castanheira & Gaëtan J.A. Nicodème & Paola Profeta & Gaëtan J.A. Nicodeme, 2011. "On the Political Economics of Tax Reforms," CESifo Working Paper Series 3538, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3538
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    political economy; taxation; personal income tax;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • P16 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Capitalist Economies - - - Capitalist Institutions; Welfare State

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