Critical Issues in Environmental Taxation series
Edited by Larry Kreiser, Ana Yábar Sterling, Pedro Herrera, Janet E. Milne and Hope Ashiabor
Chapter 3: Decentralized environmental taxation: a preliminary assessment
Green taxes are policy instruments capable of enhancing environmental protection and collecting revenues at the same time. For these reasons the issue of raising new fiscal resources through environmentally related levies has been widely discussed in the last two decades (Oates, 1995; Fullerton et al., 2008; Ekins, 2009; Green Fiscal Commission, 2009, 2010). The subject has attracted renewed attention in the context of the recent worldwide economic crisis, where the opportunity of ‘greening taxation systems’ is seen as a promising tool to raise taxes and correct budget imbalances in a more ‘growth friendly’ way (European Commission, 2010). To this day the investigation of the budgetary role of green taxes has been mainly (or almost completely) concentrated on national fiscal systems, while the local dimension has been largely ignored. In our opinion, this represents a gap to be filled, especially in view of the growing interest demonstrated towards both fiscal decentralization and environmental taxation. As a matter of fact, environmental taxes, or at least some of them – construction fees, park and road pricing, final energy consumption taxes, car registration and circulation taxes, charges on tourism, land use and occupation fees – are strongly interrelated with the territorial context, and, accordingly, can represent an effective means for making citizens and city users pay for the services they benefit from, or for the external effects they generate. According to the most recent theoretical and political debates, this perspective can be justified by at least three kinds of reasons.
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