Tax- raising departments and agencies fulfil a unique role in any national or federal government by generating the inflow of financial resources upon which the work of every other department and policy sector depends (Osborne, 2002). So, maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of tax- raising agencies has been a high priority for all liberal democratic governments for many decades. Yet taxation also essentially involves the state in directly requisitioning resources from firms, individuals and consumers, in what seems to most citizens and businesses to be an overtly coercive mode. Two key implications have followed for the operations of tax departments. On the one hand, requisitioning creates strong pressures for tax law to be absolutely clear- cut, and for its implementation to be comprehensive, strongly equitable (perhaps even rigid), and as exact (near flawless) in implementation as is achievable. On the other hand, there are also strong political and social limits upon exactly how vigorous or fine- grained the efforts made towards collecting tax can be, constraints that often shape tax departments’ ability to develop their own productivity.
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