The Elgar Guide to Tax Systems
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The Elgar Guide to Tax Systems

Edited by Emilio Albi and Jorge Martinez-Vazquez

Tax systems have changed considerably in the past three decades. These fundamental changes have been the result of economic globalization, new political stances, and also of developments in public finance thought. The chapters in this volume offer a critical review of those changes from the perspectives of tax theory, policy and tax administration practice, and the political economy of taxation. The authors also consider what sort of reforms are worth undertaking in tax policy design, tax administration and enforcement, and the assignment of sub-national taxes.
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Chapter 12: Tax System Change and the Impact of Tax Research

Richard M. Bird


* Richard M. Bird The three decades between the end of World War II and the first oil crisis of the mid-1970s have sometimes been called les trentes glorieuses, the thirty glorious years – years that, at least when viewed with the rosy nostalgia of hindsight, produced growth and increasing prosperity for all. In reality the 1945–75 period was more nuanced and differentiated than this label suggests, and it was doubtless far from ‘glorious’ for many, not least in the very heterogeneous group of ‘non-OECD’ (or ‘developing’) countries. It is no surprise that the subsequent three decades that are the focus of this chapter have also produced mixed results, not least in the fiscal sphere. Of course what one sees always depends not only on where one sits but also on precisely where (and when) one looks – as well as on what one is looking for. What I am looking for in this chapter is essentially evidence that recent tax policy has been influenced by tax research. Or, to put it another way, what evidence is there that tax researchers have been focusing on the problems that really shape tax policy? Most tax research is carried out in the OECD countries that are the principal focus of this volume, and the issues discussed here are of course relevant to those countries. For the most part, however, I focus on developing (non-OECD) countries. I do so for three reasons. First, since in the era of globalization we are all in a real...

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