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Abstract from

Introduction: New Research on Tax Law and Political Institutions

Miranda Stewart is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Melbourne, Australia and Co-Director of the Melbourne Taxation Studies program. She is an International Research Fellow of the Centre for Business Taxation at the Said Business School, Oxford University. She has published widely on tax reform and international institutions, on Australian business tax reform and on tax and the family.

Tax law and politics are intimately connected. For centuries, theorists of the state have observed that the power to collect revenues is a central feature of sovereignty or statehood. Since Schumpeterís theory of the Tax State (1918, 1954), a body of literature that has been termed fiscal sociology, or fiscal politics, has considered the need for revenues as being a central and defining feature of the state and raising taxes as the most basic task of the state (see Campbell, 1993; Gould and Baker, 2002). Theorists have posed two main questions: first, what is the impact of attempts to impose, or reform, taxation on the development of political institutions; and second, what is the impact of political and other state institutions on attempts to reform taxation? A third question is, how can we improve tax policy and law making, with the goals of improving both tax law and governance outcomes? A significant international body of historical, legal, political and economic research into fiscal politics produced in the last few decades has sought to answer these questions (Levi, 1988; Peters, 1991; Steinmo, 1993; Sandford, 1993; Hale, 2002; Eccleston, 2004). This volume presents new research that contributes to our understanding of all three questions.

(2006) 24 No 2 Law in Context 1-9

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