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Tax challenges facing developing countries

  • Bird, Richard M.

    (National Institute of Public Finance and Policy)

Taxes matter. We all know we need them to pay for public services. But most of us complain about them -- exercise our "voice" -- and often try to dodge them -- to "exit" -- when we can. Those who design and implement tax systems, like those who try to escape them, for the most part consider themselves to be eminently ‘practical’ people responding to the world around them as they see it. As John Maynard Keynes (1936, 384-85) once said, however, “practical men, who believe themselves to be quite free from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist…..soon or late, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil.” While true to some extent, at least when it comes to taxes this dictum both unduly flatters economists and puts too little weight on interests and other factors. Tax policy everywhere is shaped not only by ideas and vested interests but also by changing economic conditions, administrative constraints and technological possibilities, and, especially, the political institutions within which these factors are at play.

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Paper provided by National Institute of Public Finance and Policy in its series Working Papers with number 08/als1.

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Length: 32
Date of creation: Mar 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:npf:wpaper:08/als1
Note: Annual Public Lecture Series of the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.nipfp.org.in

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  1. Richard M. Bird & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Benno Torgler, 2008. "Societal Institutions and Tax Effort in Developing Countries," CEMA Working Papers 582, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
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  15. Hettich,Walter & Winer,Stanley L., 2005. "Democratic Choice and Taxation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521021807.
  16. Gregory Clark, 2007. "Introduction to A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World
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