On the Political Economics of Tax Reforms

52 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2011

See all articles by Micael Castanheira

Micael Castanheira

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Gaëtan Nicodème

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management; CEPR and CESifo The views expressed in the article are those of the author and should not be attributed to the European Commission.

Paola Profeta

Bocconi University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 2011

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.

Keywords: personal income tax, political economy, taxation

JEL Classification: H11, H21, H24, P16

Suggested Citation

Castanheira, Micael and Nicodeme, Gaetan and Profeta, Paola, On the Political Economics of Tax Reforms (August 2011). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP8507, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1908555

Micael Castanheira (Contact Author)

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES) ( email )

Ave. Franklin D Roosevelt, 50 - C.P. 114
Brussels, B-1050
Belgium
+32 2 650 4467 (Phone)
+32 2 650 3369 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Gaetan Nicodeme

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management ( email )

50 Avenue Roosevelt
Brussels 1050
Belgium

CEPR and CESifo The views expressed in the article are those of the author and should not be attributed to the European Commission.

No Address Available

Paola Profeta

Bocconi University ( email )

Milan, MI
Italy

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