Gendered Taxes: The Interaction of Tax Policy with Gender Equality

Authors: Maria Delgado Coelho, Aieshwarya Davis, Alexander D Klemm & Carolina Osorio Buitron

This paper provides an overview of the relation between tax policy and gender equality, covering labor, capital and wealth, as well as consumption taxes. It considers implicit and explicit gender biases and corrective taxation. On labor taxes, we discuss the well-established findings on female labor supply and present new empirical work on the impact of household taxation. We also analyze the impact of progressivity on pay gaps and labor supply. On capital and wealth taxation, we discuss the implications of lower effective capital income taxation on the personal income tax burden gap across genders. We show that countries with relatively low female shares of capital income and wealth also tend to tax property and inheritances particularly lightly. On consumption taxes, we cover taxes on female hygiene products and excise taxes, which we assess in relation to externalities and differences in consumption patterns across genders.

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Progress of the Personal Income Tax in Emerging and Developing Countries

Authors: Dora Benedek, Juan Carlos Benitez & Charles Vellutini

Personal Income Tax (PIT) is one of the key sources of revenues in Advanced Economies (AEs) but plays a much more limited role in Low-Income Developing Countries (LIDCs) and Emerging Market Economies (EMEs), both in terms of revenue and redistributive impact. Notwithstanding, this paper shows that LIDCs and EMEs increased their PIT-to-GDP revenue by 110 and 48 percent, respectively, during the 1990-2019 period, a marked improvement in the PIT revenue performance. We find that this rise was driven primarily by economic developments and to a lesser extent by changes in the design of PIT systems. We also find that LIDCs that improved their tax-to-GDP ratios relied on a broader set of tax instruments and not exclusively on the PIT, suggesting that a successful revenue mobilization strategy of developing countries requires a comprehensive approach covering a wider range of taxes. Finally, using a newly assembled dataset of PIT characteristics of 157 countries over the 2006-2018 period, we estimate a novel redistribution index of the PIT in LIDCs. We show that the contribution of the PIT to inequality reductions has been significant.

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Fiscal Rules and Fiscal Councils: Recent Trends and Performance during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Authors: Hamid R Davoodi, Paul Elger, Alexandra Fotiou, Daniel Garcia-Macia, Xuehui Han, Andresa Lagerborg, W. Raphael Lam & Paulo A Medas

Adoption of fiscal rules and fiscal councils continued to increase globally over the last decades based on two new global datasets. During the pandemic, fiscal frameworks were put to test. The widespread use of escape clauses was one of the novelties in this crisis, which helped provide policy room to respond to the health crisis. But the unprecedented fiscal actions have led to large and widespread deviations from deficit and debt limits. The evidence shows that fiscal rules, in general, have been flexible during crises but have not prevented a large and persistent buildup of debt over time. Experience shows that deviations from debt limits are very difficult to reverse. The paper also presents evidence on the benefits of a good track record in abiding by the rules. All these highlight the difficult policy choices ahead and need to further improve rules-based fiscal frameworks.

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The ‘Fiscal Presource Curse’: Giant Discoveries and Debt Sustainability

Authors: Matteo Ruzzante & Nelson Sobrinho

This paper investigates the dynamic impact of natural resource discoveries on government debt sustainability. We use a ‘natural experiment’ framework in which the timing of discoveries is treated as an exogenous source of within-country variation. We combine data on government debt, fiscal stress and debt distress episodes on a large panel of countries over 1970-2012, with a global repository of giant oil, gas, and mineral discoveries. We find strong and robust evidence of a ‘fiscal presource curse’, i.e., natural resources can jeopardize fiscal sustainability even before ‘the first drop of oil is pumped’. Specifically, we find that giant discoveries, mostly of oil and gas, lead to permanently higher government debt and, eventually, debt distress episodes, specially in countries with weaker political institutions and governance. This evidence suggest that the curse can be mitigated and even prevented by pursuing prudent fiscal policies and borrowing strategies, strengthening fiscal governance, and implementing transparent and robust fiscal frameworks for resource management.

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Tax Policy for Inclusive Growth in Latin America and the Caribbean

Authors: Santiago Acosta-Ormaechea, Samuel Pienknagura & Carlo Pizzinelli

This study provides an overview of tax structures in LAC before the COVID-19 pandemic, compares it to OECD countries, and provides recommendations for growth-friendly and inclusive tax policy reforms. LAC countries collect significantly lower tax revenue relative to OECD countries and have tax structures that rely excessively on corporate-income taxes (CIT) while personal-income taxes (PIT) remain largely underutilized. LAC countries could strengthen their PIT to mobilize revenue and improve progressivity by addressing critical design flaws. Possible adverse growth effects could be mitigated by providing incentives to labor force participation and formalization (e.g., through earned-income tax credits). The ongoing global corporate income tax reforms present a great opportunity to reassess thoroughly the CIT in LAC. Specifically, reforms would need to focus on aligning CIT statutory rates with those of other regions—when assessed to be relatively high—to attract investment and alleviate profit shifting, and on broadening the corporate tax base. Value-added taxes (VAT) could be improved by tackling exemptions and reduced rates. Furthermore, while estimates of additional revenue from levying the VAT on the digital economy appear modest, taxing this sector as others in the economy is critical to avoid further tax base erosion.

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