Environmental Tax Reform: Principles from Theory and Practice
Posted: 22 Sep 2012
Date Written: August 2012
On the basis of the environmental tax literature, this article recommends a system of upstream taxes on fossil fuels, combined with refunds for downstream emissions capture, to reduce carbon and local pollution emissions. Motor fuel taxes should also account for congestion and other externalities associated with vehicle use, at least until mileage-based taxes are widely introduced. An examination of existing energy/environmental tax systems in Germany, Sweden, Turkey, and Vietnam suggests that there is substantial scope for policy reform. Policy options include harmonizing taxes for pollution content across different fuels and end users, better aligning tax rates with (albeit crude) values for externalities, and scaling back excise taxes on vehicle ownership and electricity use that are redundant (on environmental grounds) in the presence of more targeted taxes.
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