Cover of EconPol Working Paper 71

Read My Lips? Taxes and Elections

Clemens Fuest, Klaus Gründler, Niklas Potrafke, and Fabian Ruthardt

The paper introduces a new dataset that includes quantitative harmonized indices of tax reforms, which provides indicators on tax reforms for tax rates and tax bases, along with detailed subindices for six types of taxes in in 23 industrialized and emerging economies between 1960 and 2014. Relating tax reforms to the timing of elections, we examine electoral cycles in tax reforms. Our results show that politicians postpone tax rate increases to after elections. A key innovation of our dataset is the coverage of harmonized indices for six tax types. Examining heterogeneity across tax types, we find that electoral cycles are particularly pronounced for value added tax rates and personal income tax rates.

Abstract

We introduce a new dataset that includes quantitative harmonized indices of tax reforms based on qualitative information of about 900 Economic Surveys from the OECD and 37,000 tax-related news from the IBFD archives. The data set provides indicators on tax reforms for tax rates and tax bases, along with detailed sub-indices for six types of taxes (23 countries, 1960–2014). Relating tax reforms to the timing of elections, we examine electoral cycles in tax reforms. Our results show that politicians postpone tax rate increases to after elections. A key innovation of our data set is the coverage of harmonized indices for six tax types. Examining heterogeneity across tax types, we find that electoral cycles are particularly pronounced for value added tax rates and personal income tax rates.

Citation

Clemens Fuest, Klaus Gründler, Niklas Potrafke, and Fabian Ruthardt: “Read My Lips? Taxes and Elections,” EconPol Working Paper 71, November 2021.