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The New Politics of Taxation

Comparative Politics
Political Economy
Welfare State
Qualitative Comparative Analysis
Workshop Number
Workshop Director
Niamh Hardiman
University College Dublin
Workshop Co-Director
Sven Steinmo
European University Institute

The global financial crisis exposes the need to take a fresh look at the politics of taxation. Current international orthodoxy would have it that governments should not increase taxes. They should manage public finances through downward pressure on spending, because markets impose limits on states’ revenue-raising efforts.
However, the ‘new fiscal sociology of the state’ prompts us to take a long view of historical and cross-national variations in tax policy (Martin, Mehrotra, & Prasad, 2009). There may be multiple equilibria in the tax-spending mix. The tax system is not only the product of technical decision, but is profoundly shaped by political and social interests. Consistent, effective, and equitable tax policy implementation and tax compliance cannot always be assumed.
Tax policy, in other words, is deeply political. Who pays tax, and how much they pay, is at the heart of politics itself. And yet we know relatively little about the underlying politics of taxation.
This Workshop brings political science and political economy perspectives to bear on the analysis of taxation. The aim is to identify the key analytical and methodological challenges, and to consider how these can be addressed. Key questions include these:

1. How have governments responded to the political challenge of funding the state in the last decades, in both good and bad times? What accounts for variation in the balance struck between tax and spending?
2. How can we best explain variation in the composition and distributive consequences of different tax mixes? What is the role of interests, institutions and ideas in shaping the evolution of tax policies?
3. Do markets impose limits to the state’s capacity to extract revenues from society – is there a limit to the ‘tax state’?
4. Why is tax implementation more problematic in some countries than others? How is tax compliance best explained?

Paper List

Budget Surpluses as a Fiscal Regime View Paper Details
Decentralisation of the Property Tax in Indonesia View Paper Details
Democracy, Urbanisation and Tax Revenue View Paper Details
Families of Taxation: Convergence or Divergence View Paper Details
Happy Taxation: Increasing Tax Compliance Through Positive Rewards? View Paper Details
How Federal and Legislative Institutions Shape Tax Policy in Normal and Crisis Times: The Case of Argentina, 1983 − 2011 View Paper Details
Party System Institutionalisation and Progressive Taxation in Developing Countries View Paper Details
Paying for the Welfare State in the European Periphery View Paper Details
Taxation and Redistribution in Autocratic Regimes View Paper Details
Taxing the Rich − What Makes the High-Income Earners Consent to more Progressive Taxation in Latin America? View Paper Details
Taxpayer Conflict and the Politics of Austerity in Europe View Paper Details
The Conditional Effect of Political Trust on Tax Compliance View Paper Details
The Domestic Origins of International Tax Co-operation View Paper Details
The Early Modern Origins of Contemporary Tax Systems View Paper Details
The Multi-Faceted Challenges of Fiscal Capacity in Eastern Europe View Paper Details
The Political Economy of Fiscal Capacity: Comparing the Historical Experiences of Europe and Latin America View Paper Details
The Politics of Tax-Break: Contested Legitimacies in the Fiscal Evolution of the State in Greece View Paper Details
Willing to Pay? Testing Institutionalist Theories with Experiments View Paper Details
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"The less the power, the greater the desire to exercise it" - Bernard Levin

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