Chapter 7: The place of law in the evolution of Chinese fiscal federalism
The importance of tax design for economic development is well under- stood and uncontroversial. The drafting of tax legislation to implement tax policy in developing countries has also received attention from organizations such as the International Monetary Fund. However, the role of tax law as a determinant of economic development has been less often explored. What part has tax law, as distinguished from the tax policies that it embodies more or less perfectly, played in either enhancing or hindering development? This is not a whimsical question. Many developing countries in search of appropriate tax policies also have fledgling legal systems. In these countries, a legal – including constitutional – framework for developing and implementing tax legislation cannot be taken for granted. As a result, the legal perspective is often missing or barely present in tax policy debates. By contrast, it is customary for scholars in developed countries to structure discussions about taxation by reference to a wide range of legal doctrines, norms and interpretations. Herein lies a gap between the respective tax policy discourses in developed and developing countries, and legal scholars have a particular stake in assessing the significance of the gap: even if the law cannot be easily dismissed as superfluous, its importance for tax policy in developing countries may be sufficiently elusive that one is tempted to neglect it. In this chapter, I hope to shed light on these issues by exploring the role of law in one of the most important areas of tax policy in China
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