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Turning Point? The Volatile Geographies of Taxation

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This article argues that the geographies of taxation offer an important but neglected insight into changes taking place in the nature of the contemporary state in the context of globalisation. Following Schumpeter's analysis of the “tax state”, the paper argues that, historically, the theory and practice of fiscal space are fundamental both to state form and to the possibility of political and social institutions. Despite this, the complexity and fluidity inherent in fiscal space has been obscured by the dominant normative conception of “the” fiscal state. As the concept of “fiscal sovereignty” becomes less and less salient in practice in the context of economic globalisation, it remains a powerful ideological concept for state governance. This paper reviews the primary contemporary accounts of fiscal space across a range of disciplinary contexts and scales of governance. Despite the expectation and or desire for some form of “fiscal globalisation” on the part of commentators, in practice what we see is an increased centralisation of state fiscal control coupled with a creeping individuation and privatisation of fiscal responsibility. This radical respatialisation of fiscal space has profound implications both for the state itself and for any prospect of the creation of a global “public domain” founded on a global fisc.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Geography Department, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK;, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2006-03-01

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