Elgar original reference
Edited by Emilio Albi and Jorge Martinez-Vazquez
Emilio Albi and Jorge Martinez-Vazquez Tax systems, how governments raise money to finance public expenditures, are central to the economic and political institutions and the overall day-to-day and long-term performances of every country. How much is raised in taxes to be spent on public services and infrastructure and how much is left to the private market to provide is eminently a political decision about which economics has little to say. However, taxes can cause important distortions on the behavior of economic agents, and the same exact amount of tax revenue can be raised with very different additional excess burdens to society depending on how tax systems are structured. In addition, all taxes can have significant effects on the distribution of income and even poverty levels depending on their final economic incidence, or who actually bears the burden in terms of reduced disposable income. These two aspects, the economic efficiency and the distributional equity of taxes, have been at the core of the theory and practice of public finance over the past several centuries, from the classical writings of David Ricardo and John Stuart Mill, to Richard Musgrave’s Fiscal Systems in 1969, to the influential reports produced by the Meade Commission in the UK and the Bradford Commission in the US in the late 1970s, to the most recent 2010/2011 comprehensive report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies in the UK, Reforming the Tax System for the 21st Century (the Mirrlees Review). Tax systems around the world have changed considerably in...