Taxing the Working Poor
Show Less

Taxing the Working Poor

The Political Origins and Economic Consequences of Taxing Low Wages

Achim Kemmerling

In most industrialized countries the tax burden of poor people has increased dramatically over the last few decades. This book analyses both the political origins of this increase and its consequences for the labour market.
Buy Book in Print
Show Summary Details
You do not have access to this content

Chapter 2: A Comparative Welfare State Analysis of Tax Mixes

Achim Kemmerling


to tax – about 1300 taxen to assess, put a tax on; borrowed from Old French taxer, learned borrowing from Medieval Latin taxare, from Latin, and borrowed directly into English from Latin taxare evaluate, estimate, assess, handle, probably a frequent form of tangere to touch. (Barnhart, 1988: 1118) (be-)steuern – steuern ‘mit dem Steuer lenken’, [. . .] stiuren ‘lenken, leiten, (unter)stützen, helfen, beschenken, ausstatten, eine Abgabe entrichten, [. . .]’ stiuren ‘in eine Richtung bringen, lenken’, [. . .] stiuren/stieren ‘steuern, richten’. (Pfeifer et al., 1993: 1359)1 The ultimate question of this book is simply why national governments differ in taxing (low-wage) labour. For an answer we first need to know what choices governments have when they decide how to tax labour. Second, we need to know what shapes political actors’ preferences for different forms of taxation. In a political economy tradition, the latter will depend on the basic functions of taxation in a society, and the differences between different tax forms in performing these functions. This calls for conceptual work, and for ‘taxonomy’ in particular. A look into the etymological history of the word ‘taxation’ may hence be doubly illuminative. Comparing the English and German etymology of the word ‘tax’, ‘taxation’, as the two quotes from above show, has two different roots. In one perspective, taxes are used to levy resources in order to pursue other policies. Hence, taxes are merely the means for achieving different goals, and should be considered as political and economic budget constraints. This is the traditional notion of ‘tax’...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information

or login to access all content.