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Tax Challenges Facing Developing Countries

  • Richard Bird

    (University of Toronto)

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 Rotman Institute for International Business, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto in its series Working Papers Series with number 12.

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Length: 32 Pages
Date of creation: Mar 2008
Date of revision: Mar 2008
Handle: RePEc:ttp:iibwps:12
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  1. Richard M. Bird, 2014. "Administrative Dimensions of Tax Reform," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 15(2), pages 963-992, November.
  2. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521021807 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Friedrich Schneider & Robert Klinglmair, 2004. "Shadow economies around the world: what do we know?," Economics working papers 2004-03, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  4. Warlters, Michael & Auriol, Emmanuelle, 2005. "The marginal cost of public funds in Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3679, The World Bank.
  5. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Warlters, Michael, 2005. "Taxation base in developing countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(4), pages 625-646, April.
  6. Richard M. Bird, 2006. "Taxing Land and Property in Emerging Economies: Raising Revenue...and More?," International Tax Program Papers 0605, International Tax Program, Institute for International Business, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.
  7. Richard M. Bird & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Benno Torgler, 2004. "Societal Institutions and Tax Effort in Developing Countries," CREMA Working Paper Series 2004-21, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  8. Roger Gordon & Wei Li, 2005. "Tax Structure in Developing Countries: Many Puzzles and a Possible Explanation," NBER Working Papers 11267, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Graziella Bertocchi, 2007. "The vanishing bequest tax. The Comparative Evolution of Bequest Taxation in Historical Perspective," Center for Economic Research (RECent) 005, University of Modena and Reggio E., Dept. of Economics "Marco Biagi".
  10. Morisset, Jacques & Izquierdo, Alejandro, 1993. "Effects of tax reform on Argentina's revenues," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1192, The World Bank.
  11. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521622912 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Lindert, Peter H., 2003. "Voice and Growth: Was Churchill Right?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 63(02), pages 315-350, June.
  13. Gregory Clark, 2007. "Introduction to A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World
    [A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World]
    ," Introductory Chapters, Princeton University Press.
  14. Eduardo Lora & Mauricio Cárdenas, 2006. "La Reforma de las Instituciones Fiscales en América Latina," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 7647, Inter-American Development Bank.
  15. Michael Keen, 2007. "VAT attacks!," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 365-381, August.
  16. Heady, Christopher, 2001. "Taxation Policy in Low-Income Countries," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  17. Richard M Bird & Eric M Zolt, 2008. "Tax policy in emerging countries," Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 26(1), pages 73-86, February.
  18. Tridimas, George & Winer, Stanley L., 2005. "The political economy of government size," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 643-666, September.
  19. Cnossen, Sijbren (ed.), 2005. "Theory and Practice of Excise Taxation: Smoking, Drinking, Gambling, Polluting, and Driving," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199278596.
  20. Emran, M. Shahe & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 2005. "On selective indirect tax reform in developing countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(4), pages 599-623, April.
  21. Eduardo Lora & Mauricio Cardenas, 2006. "La reforma de las instituciones fiscales en América Latina," Research Department Publications 4458, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  22. Alberto Alesina & George-Marios Angeletos, 2002. "Fairness and Redistribution: US versus Europe," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1983, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  23. Jack A. Goldstone, 2007. "Jack Goldstone on Gregory Clark, A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 8(3), pages 207-225, July.
  24. Toye, John, 2000. "Fiscal Crisis and Fiscal Reform in Developing Countries," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 21-44, January.
  25. Auerbach, Alan J. & Hines, James Jr., 2002. "Taxation and economic efficiency," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 21, pages 1347-1421 Elsevier.
  26. Peter Lindert, 2004. "Social Spending and Economic Growth," Challenge, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 47(4), pages 6-16, July.
  27. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521877657 is not listed on IDEAS
  28. Richard M. Bird, 2005. "Evaluating Public Expenditures: Does It Matter How They are Financed?," International Tax Program Papers 0506, International Tax Program, Institute for International Business, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.
  29. Jorge Martinez-Vazquez, 2001. "Mexico: An Evaluation of the Main Features of the Tax System," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0112, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  30. Richard M. Bird & Sally Wallace, 2003. "Is It Really so Hard to Tax the Hard-to-Tax? The Context and Role of Presumptive Taxes," International Tax Program Papers 0307, International Tax Program, Institute for International Business, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.
  31. Shah, Anwar & Whalley, John, 1991. "Tax Incidence Analysis of Developing Countries: An Alternative View," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 5(3), pages 535-52, September.
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