Series on International Taxation Volume 53
Why are tax systems so complex? What are the causes of tax law complexity? What are the consequences? Why is tax simplification so difficult to achieve? These, and related questions, lie at the core of this volume on tax simplification featuring chapters by leading tax experts around the world. The quest for simplicity – or at least some move towards simplification – has been a fixation of governments and others for many years, but little appears to have been achieved. Tax simplification is the most widely quoted but the least widely observed of the usually stated goals of policy (equity and efficiency being the others). It has been used (and abused) as a primary justification for tax reform over the last century, and typically it is seen as ‘a good thing’ – to say that one is in favour of tax simplification is tantamount to stating that one is in favour of good as opposed to evil.
The volume explores all aspects of tax complexity and simplification, from policy through law to practice. It is both theoretical and practical, providing key insights that can help the reader to understand tax complexity, assess its impact and identify potential means by which tax simplification can be attained – or at least complexity can be contained.
The contributors to the volume cover a range of topics including:
- theoretical perspectives explaining tax complexity;
- ideological underpinnings of tax complexity;
- causes of tax complexity;
- ways of measuring tax complexity;
- tax compliance costs studies;
- institutional monitoring of tax complexity;
- implications of complexity for judicial review;
- the role of vested interests;
- administrative and technological drivers of tax simplification; and
- institutional and other pathways towards improved simplification.
Contributors include eminent academics, administrators and practitioners with direct knowledge of the adverse consequences of tax complexity and of how simplification initiatives have fared in a variety of countries from around the world.
Attempts at tax simplification have – thus far – not been particularly successful. This in-depth study, backed up with facts, evidence and soundly based recommendations of how simplification may be achieved, will be of critical concern for all tax system stakeholders; taxpayers, tax advisers, tax legislators and policy makers, tax administrators and a range of other commentators including academics and journalists.
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Preface and Acknowledgements
List of Figures
List of Tables
CHAPTER 1 Why’d You Have to Go and Make Things So Complicated? Joel Slemrod
CHAPTER 2 A Contemporary Approach to Tax Complexity: Polycentrism in an Increasingly International Tax Environment Frank H. Pedersen
CHAPTER 3 Tax Complexity and Symbolic Power Lynne Oats & Gregory Morris
CHAPTER 4 Measuring Tax Complexity David Ulph
CHAPTER 5 An Integrated Approach to the Economic Measurement of the Costs of Tax Complexity Binh Tran-Nam
CHAPTER 6 Paying Taxes: The Global Picture: An Index to Encourage Tax Reform and the Development of Good Tax Systems Andrew Packman & Neville Howlett
CHAPTER 7 The Paying Taxes Report: Will It Guide Tax System Simplification? Sharon Smulders
CHAPTER 8 Measuring Tax Compliance Costs: Evidence from Australia Philip Lignier, Chris Evans & Binh Tran-Nam
CHAPTER 9 Measuring Tax Complexity: Analytical Framework and Evidence for Individual Income Tax Preferences for Canada Marco Lugo & François Vaillancourt
CHAPTER 10 Administering Tax Complexity versus Simplicity Kristin E. Hickman
CHAPTER 11 Tax Complexity: A Necessary Evil? Michael Walpole
CHAPTER 12 Exploring Individual Taxpayers’ Perceptions of Tax Complexity: A Pilot Study Kudakwashe M.M. Muli & Theuns Steyn
CHAPTER 13 Six Degrees of Graduation: Law and Economics of Variable Sanctions Alex Raskolnikov
CHAPTER 14 Some Cautions Regarding Tax Simplification J. Clifton Fleming Jr
CHAPTER 15 The Office of Tax Simplification and Its Complexity Index John Whiting, Jeremy Sherwood & Gareth Jones
CHAPTER 16 Managing Tax Complexity: The Institutional Framework for Tax Policy-Making and Oversight Judith Freedman
CHAPTER 17 Oversight Mechanisms and Administrative Responses to Tax Complexity in the United States John Hasseldine
CHAPTER 18 Pathways for Tax Policy and Administration: Institutions and Simplicity – An Australian Perspective Michael D’Ascenzo
CHAPTER 19 Simplified Small Business Tax Regimes in Developing Countries: Empirical Evidence of Use and Abuse Jacqueline Coolidge & Fatih Yılmaz