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Edited by Emilio Albi and Jorge Martinez-Vazquez
Chapter 11: Political Regimes, Institutions, and the Nature of Tax Systems
11 Political regimes, institutions, and the nature of tax systems* Stanley L. Winer, Lawrence W. Kenny, and Walter Hettich 1 INTRODUCTION To the casual observer who does a quick survey of the data, tax systems present a confusing array of structures and forms, particularly if international comparisons are included. To the political economist, the variety of observed forms of taxation presents an interesting research challenge and raises a number of important questions. Can the seemingly confusing array of data be classified in a meaningful way? Is it possible to explain both differences and similarities in tax regimes? How do political factors and institutions influence the nature of observed tax systems? How do such factors interact with the underlying economy in determining the use of different revenue sources? Can the comparison of international tax regimes help in formulating better policy? In this chapter, we assess the contributions of current research in political economy to provide answers to these questions, while also presenting some new statistical results on the relation between tax structure and political regimes. Our discussion of the literature is selective and is empirically oriented. Our primary goal is to give a sense of some of the empirical research possibilities that lie ahead.1 It is now widely recognized in the literature that observed tax systems reflect the interplay among political forces together with the influence of current and past economic factors. In democratic regimes, they can be modeled as direct outcomes of political competition, tempered by economic factors. In non-democratic...
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