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Law in Context

Abstract from Volume 24 No 2 (2006) Tax Law and Political Institutions

Exploring the Application of Institutional Theory to Tax Policy for Retirement Savings in New Zealand and Australia

Lisa Marriott is a Doctoral candidate and Assistant Lecturer in the School of Accounting and Commercial Law, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. She researches in the area of tax history, taxation policy development and comparative taxation. 
Kevin Holmes is a Professor in the School of Accounting and Commercial Law, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, and Visiting Professor on the Tax Governance Programme in the School of Law, Utrecht University, The Netherlands. His research is in the fields of tax policy in developing countries and international taxation. 

Institutional theory is widely employed in disciplines ranging from history and sociology through to economics and political science. This article investigates the application of institutional theory to the topic of tax policy development. Authors such as Peters (1991), Steinmo (1993), Hale (2002) and Eccleston (2004) have successfully utilised institu­tional theory to explain the development of tax policy and differences in tax policy evolution across countries. This article adopts a case study perspective and investigates the potential for historical institutionalism to explain the different approaches adopted by New Zealand and Aust­ralia in their respective tax treatment of retirement savings. It is hypothesised that institutional theory will be challenged in explaining the different approaches adopted in two countries that are similar politically, economically and culturally and that face common social problems, in particular that of an ageing population.

(2006) 24 No 2 Law in Context 78-99

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