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Why Tax Systems Differ
A Comparative Study of the Political Economy of Taxation
by Cedric Sandford

Paperback 224 pages
ISBN 9780951515785
Published September 2000

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This book analyses and compares taxation in different countries. It looks at what tax systems have in common, how they differ and seeks to explain the the similarities and the differences.

No attempt is made to confine the analysis on each topic to the same group of countries. Whilst the emphasis is on the larger advanced countries, countries are drawn on from all round the world according to the nature of the topic and the data available.

The book seeks to answer questions such as:

• Why do developing countries rely heavily on indirect taxes?
Why is income tax the dominant tax in advanced countries?
• Why is the property tax the most widely used tax in local government?
Why do some countries have more tax expenditures than others?
Why has VAT become the dominant sales tax world-wide?
Why do less than half OECD countries have annual wealth taxes?
Why are there so many differences in the way countries tax corporate income and capital gains?
• What are the keys to success in tax reform?

And many more.

In seeking to answer these questions the author draws on economic theory but also recognises the significance of historical, legal and social differences, the importance of constitutional constraints, the influence of geography and globalisation and the often decisive role played by the convictions and whims of politicians.


Cedric Sandford is Emeritus Professor of Political Economy at the University of Bath where, until 1999, he taught Comparative Taxation on the M.Sc. in Fiscal Studies to mature students from many countries. He founded the Bath University Centre for Fiscal Studies, which he directed from 1975 to 1986.

He has experienced many tax systems through personal researches, as a visiting fellow/professor in the United States, Australia and New Zealand and as a consultant for the OECD, IMF, World Bank, USAID, various individual countries and the National Audit Office and Inland Revenue in the United Kingdom. He has also given lecture series in India and Zimbabwe and, for the OECD, in Copenhagen, Budapest, Ankara and Vienna.

He has written numerous articles and his books include Taxing Personal Wealth (1971), Hidden Costs of Taxation (1973), An Accessions Tax, jointly (1973), An Annual Wealth Tax, jointly (1975), Costs and Benefits of VAT, jointly (1981), Tax Policy-Making in the United Kingdom, jointly (1983), The Irish Wealth Tax, A Study in Politics and Economics, jointly (1985), Taxing Wealth in New Zealand (1987), Administrative and Compliance Costs of Taxation, jointly (1989), Successful Tax Reform - Lessons from an Analysis of Tax Reform in Six Countries (1993).

In Why Tax Systems Differ he draws an all his accumulated experience and mature judgement.

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