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Explaining Changes in Tax Burdens in Latin America: Does Politics Trump Economics?

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  • Mark Hallerberg
  • Carlos Scartascini

Abstract

This paper examines whether elections, which are generally held on fixed dates, and banking crises explain the timing of tax reforms and the allocation of the additional tax burden. Using an original fine-grained dataset of tax reforms, the paper finds support for the role of these two sources of variation. In particular, the probability of reform is higher during banking crises. During electoral periods, increasing taxes becomes highly unlikely, even if the government is facing financing problems. Interestingly, politics seem to trump economics: banking crises do not affect the probability of having a reform during electoral times. Moreover, the presence of an IMF program affects the tax instruments chosen: countries with a program increase the value-added tax, while those without raise the personal income tax. Finally, the ideology of the president does not explain who bears the additional tax burden.

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  • Mark Hallerberg & Carlos Scartascini, 2015. "Explaining Changes in Tax Burdens in Latin America: Does Politics Trump Economics?," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 7205, Inter-American Development Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:idb:brikps:7205
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    1. repec:eee:wdevel:v:105:y:2018:i:c:p:13-24 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Stephen B. Kaplan, 2018. "The Rise of Patient Capital: The Political Economy of Chinese Global Finance," Working Papers 2018-2, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.

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    Keywords

    Public Administration & Policy Making; Taxation; Financial Crises & Structural Adjustement; Fiscal Policy; Elections; Policymaking; Elections; Taxation; Fiscal reform; Political economy; Ideology; Banking crises;

    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics

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