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Historical Political Economy Approach to Tax. The role of threat, conflict and politics in explaining tax formation and change Tilly and the relationship of war-making and state formation

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Historical Political Economy Approach to Tax

  • The role of threat, conflict and politics in explaining tax formation and change

  • Tilly and the relationship of war-making and state formation

  • The effort to finance war and the military led to varying patterns of bargains between the state and interest groups, particularly merchants, landlords and in some cases, directly with the peasantry


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3. Thinking Strategically about Politics and Tax Reform in LDC’s: The Case of Autonomous Revenue Authorities

  • in weak states, revenue collection authorities are more effective when they operate autonomously from the state (and particularly the finance ministry), as a commercial entity at arms length from the government rather than as a department within the government administration

  • some evidence in Africa and Latin America that autonomous revenue authorities may have been instrumental in initiating reforms, it is less clear that such arrangements are sustainable.


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Thinking Strategically about Politics and Tax Reform in LDC’s: The Case of Autonomous Revenue Authorities

  • a technical approach to tax policy abstracts from politics in at least three ways.

  • Firstly, the reasons why such reforms were politically feasible in the first place is not addressed.

  • Secondly, there is little analysis of why such autonomy is acceptable to relevant political coalitions over time.

  • Thirdly, there is no accepted definition of autonomy. Since tax policy, which the domain of finance ministries, can not practically be divorced from tax collection, which the domain of newly created ARA’s, it is not ultimately possible for the latter in purely autonomous ways. In effect, autonomy can never be complete where there are inter-dependencies among agencies and thus is always a contested notion.


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The Political Economy of Taxation in Uganda LDC’s: The Case of Autonomous Revenue Authorities

  • Case study of autonomous revenue agency (ARA’s)

  • Big idea of ARA’s: insulate tax collection from political interference

  • Creation of parallel agency favored over restructuring existing tax institutions

  • Problems with technical approach

  • Reasons why reforms politically feasible not addressed. In the Ugandan case, threat of fiscal collapse legitimized reform initiatives

  • Need to analyze why such autonomy acceptable politically over time

  • Autonomy difficult since tax policy, the domain of finance ministry, can not be divorced from issues of tax collection

  • Main problem in sustaining reforms: political strategy of anti-party politics rendered tax authority vulnerable to shifting policies and coalitions


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The Political Economy of Tax and Tax Reform in Post-War Afghanistan: links between state-building and public finance

  • fiscal capacity was crucial for the viability and sustainability of the state, particularly given the short attention span and shifting priorities of external donors.

  • important as foundations of sound revenue collections:

    • the methods chosen should be easy to handle administratively;

    • they should honor progressivity in order to reduce rather than exacerbate distributive tensions by taxing those with ability to pay;

    • and they should be underpinned by legitimacy.

  • need to re-think the policy of exempting high-income expatriates from paying taxes despite the fact that they often earn 100 times the national average salary.


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The Political Economy of Tax and Tax Reform in Post-War Afghanistan: links between state-building and public finance

  • On the expenditure side, aid would do more to promote capacity to plan and execute policies if channeled through the central government.

  • The current situation features a dual public sector where 75 percent of expenditure (including procurement , the payments system and the delivery of services) is made directly by donors with only 25 percent of spending going through the parliament and the budget process.


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Aid and Post-War Economic Reconstruction Afghanistan: links between state-building and public finance

  • foreign aid as a significant component of government revenues and expenditure, and of total investment.

  • In 2003, aid in Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda stood at between 15 and 18% of GDP, but was as high as 100% in the DRC, with the huge aid inflow after the peace agreement.

  • In Uganda between 1987 and 2003, Overseas Development Assistance amounted to 64.5 percent of central government expenditure, and contributed to 65 percent of total investment in the period 1996-2003.

  • In Uganda, aid was most important in the reconstruction of physical infrastructure, particularly roads.

  • aid contributed to the maintenance of a relatively high investment rate which was essential in Uganda achieving one of the fastest rates of growth and poverty reduction in sub-Saharan Africa in the period 1990-2003.


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Political Settlements and Tax Capacity in South Africa and Brazil

  • South Africa-In the period 1960-2000, the total and income tax collection as a percentage of GDP has consistently been the highest among middle-income countries.

  • high degree of cooperation between the state and upper-income white groups which supported state-led reforms

  • High degree of cooperation between state agencies and tax authority.

  • South Africa’s relatively cooperative state-elite income tax system is instructive of the need to build particular political coalitions to increase compliance.

  • the historical process in which the national political community was constructed in the early 1900’s contributes greatly in explaining the evolution of income tax capacity in South Africa.


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Political Settlements and Tax Capacity in South Africa Brazil

  • The definition of the polity along exclusionary racial lines and centralised state and other political structures influenced the cohesion of cross-class alliances.

  • Political parties, employer associations and unions were all based along the exclusive inclusion of whites and along national lines.

  • apartheid state influenced the calculations of upper income groups, who became assured that their income tax would benefit “their own” group, and not “the other”. At the same time, a racially defined project allowed lower income whites to demand progressive taxation by drawing on the shared identity of a cross-class white project.

  • The contrast of the South African experience with the Brazilian tax state in the twentieth century is instructive of the value of comparative historical political economy analysis in understanding variations in income tax capacity


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Political Settlements in Brazil Brazil

  • Brazil—high tax state, but low income tax collection with adversarial state-upper income groups relationship.

  • The main difference, according to Lieberman (2001), is that, in Brazil, the polity was defined as a non-racial federation where regional interests were much more salient than in the South African state, which developed more centralised state along racial lines.

  • As a result, race did not become an idiom along which upper-income white groups in Brazil could develop cross-class alliances and solidarity.

  • The regional nature of the polity meant that both firms and white upper-income groups were less willing to cooperate with state as they were not confident that direct taxes would be used to benefit “their” region.. Moreover, regionalism bred greater polarisation and fragmentation of political parties and labour unions which weakened the collective capacity of lower income groups to demand more progressive taxation


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South Africa vs. Brazil Brazil

  • comparative analysis highlights the importance of considering the structure of political institutions and settlements, and the nature in which the national political community is defined as critical to understanding the evolution of tax capacity of states


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