Going Where the Money Is: Strategies for Taxing Economic Elites in Unequal Democracies

Authors: Tasha Fairfield
Publisher: LSE
Date: June 2015

Abstract:

World Development 47

How can policymakers circumvent obstacles to taxing economic elites? This question is critical for developing countries, especially in Latin America where strengthening tax capacity depends significantly on tapping under-taxed, highly-concentrated income and profits. Drawing on diverse literatures and extensive fieldwork, the paper identifies six strategies that facilitate enactment of modest tax increases by mobilizing popular support and/or tempering elite antagonism. Case studies from Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia illustrate the effect of these strategies on the fate of tax reform initiatives. The analysis builds theory on tax politics and yields implications for research on reform coalitions and gradual institutional change.

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