The politics of tax reform : Britain and France in the 1980s
The 1980s were hailed by many as the decade of tax reform. A number of different countries were caught by a neo-liberal tax reforming wave which saw rates of personal and corporate income taxes reduced, tax allowances restricted, tax bases broadened, the incidence between direct and indirect taxation shifted and tax structures simplified. Policy makers were driven to change tax systems for a number of reasons. There is a tendency, however, to point to economic factors as the cause, but this presents only part of the picture. Moreover, it tells us little about the process. How did tax reform come about. Where did the impulse come from. How did it emerge on political agendas. Tax reform measures were the outcome of positive political decisions to make a policy change. Therefore, it's primarily to the political context we must look for an explanation. While considering a broad range of competing models of politics, this paper will ultimately show that the complex of factors which constitute the tax reform process can best be explained by reference to problems, policies, politics and open windows in a given institutional setting. This hypothesis will be considered in light of the French and British experiences in the 1980s.