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Why aren't tobacco taxes being addressed more forcefully and in more countries? Evidence suggests that tobacco taxes can be extremely effective—the cost is very low relative to the revenues and fully justified by the health gains.
CGD Europe recently published a (UK) election manifesto on development with proposals across 19 areas. One area that raised comments and feedback was the proposals on tax, which left out country-by-country reporting. I can’t speak for others who contributed ideas to the manifesto, but the reason I did not suggest public CBCR is this: I’m not convinced by it.
A key goal of tax-and-spending policies is to alleviate poverty by redistributing income from the haves to the have-nots. The extent that this is possible depends on the balance between the number of higher earners and the number of poor people, and the efficiency of the mechanisms used.
Last November, the IMF released a workable guide to issues that come up when a country decides to raise tobacco taxes. This is a big step. As far as I know, this is the first public statement from the IMF on tobacco taxes since 1999. Yet while it recognizes the health effects of reducing tobacco consumption, the technical note never addresses how you would make sure that tobacco taxes reduce smoking.
Rory Stewart MP gave a wise speech about how Britain can play a role in global peace and stability. In my brief response to the Minister, I suggested twelve policies which are within our control which would help create conditions for stronger, more peaceful, more prosperous countries to thrive, and so reduce the risks of future conflict and instability. Here they are.
When the Upper House of India’s parliament recently passed the landmark Goods and Service Tax (GST) legislation, India finally, after more than six decades of independence, became a truly common market. That could be a game changer for India’s development in the coming years.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock in the British Virgin Islands, you might have heard of the massive leak of documents from Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm whose services included helping its clients create shell corporations and store their assets in offshore tax havens. In addition to a torrent of political scandals and crises, the leak has resulted in a renewed rallying cry to reform the international tax system. But aside from the political implications, the Panama Papers have the potential to help us better understand two things: what kinds of countries do these offshore firms do business with and are the tools we use for determining the relative risks of hidden cash any good?
Over the past couple of weeks Malawi has become the latest poster child for UK campaigns arguing that changes to the international tax system can deliver outsize returns for development. Specifically, Action Aid is calling on the UK government to renegotiate a 60-year-old tax treaty. Questions were also raised about this issue in the House of Commons.
Here’s an obvious truth: tax lost to trade misinvoicing in Africa does not equal tax lost to transfer mispricing by multinational corporations in Sierra Leone, which does not equal lost health-care spending. Unfortunately, a policy paper released on Tuesday by Oxfam makes exactly these equivalences. This sort of imprecision is widespread, and it’s not going to help the poor.