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Distribution and Poverty Impacts of Tax Structure Reform in Developing Countries: How Little We Know

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The past two decades have witnessed widespread reforms of tax structures in developing countries. This article reviews available evidence on the effects of various taxes, and hence of tax structure reform, on distribution and the poor. Taxes on exports and goods consumed especially by the poor (e.g. kerosene) are the most consistently found to be regressive, whereas taxes on ‘luxury’ items such as cars, beverages and alcohol are the most likely to be progressive. Sales taxes are slightly more progressive, or less regressive, than taxes on imports. The reforms implemented are therefore unlikely to have worsened the effects of the tax structure on the poor.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Norman Gemmell ( ) is Professorial Research Fellow, the School of Economics, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: March 1, 2005

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