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Taxation, the State and Society

The Fiscal Sociology of Interventionist Democracy

Series:

Marc Leroy

This book investigates the relationship between taxation, the State and society in democracy. Fiscal sociology is a broad social science in terms of its disciplines: law, economics, sociology, political science, management, economics, psychology etc. are mobilized. Fiscal sociology is general because it tackles a wide range of problems: genesis, development and crisis of the State, policy factors (ideas, institutions, division of left and right, lobbying etc.), vote-catching of the ruling elite, resilience of the welfare State, neo-liberal ideology of market efficiency, impact of capitalist globalization, democratic political choices and constraints on the functions of the interventionist State etc. It is empirical in terms of understanding the financing of public action: social division of society by the tax policy, growth of public expenditure, bureaucratic labelling of the tax deviance, budget performance, rationality of taxpayers, complex rules etc. It analyses the incoherence of a societal regulation of globalization: redistribution and inequalities of incomes, tax competition between the States, tax havens, tax planning and relocations of the multinational groups, action of the European Union, the OECD etc. It studies the conditions for a tax citizenbased conception of a democratic social contract.

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CHAPTER 6 The Elemental Factors of Fiscal Policy 171

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171 CHAPTER 6 The Elemental Factors of Fiscal Policy Even though certain institutional movements such as decentralization and federalism moderate the analysis, the sovereign power of the tax State remains a reality. Since its regalian origins (cf. chapter 4), the tax State, having become interventionist, remains at the centre of choices, in spite of the fragmentation of the financial system (chapter 5). As is illustrated by the rule of the member countries’ unanimity regarding the tax decisions of the European Union, its legal competence in this do- main leads to keep the term of public policy. The legitimate authority is in many cases the State. Ideas, groups and partisan preference which characterize society influence tax policy through an intermediate varia- ble: the conception of public policy. This societal dimension completes the institutional shaping of the interventionist public action which, without being centered on the State, admits a real autonomy of the State. Specialists generally favour one or two particular factors. For exam- ple, Wildavsky (1985) develops a theory of budgetary cultures which are connected with the explanations from the role of ideas. Institutions and ideas are considered by Steinmo (2003), while Eisenstein (1961) privileges the combination of interest groups (or classes) with ideolo- gies. Campbell (1993), considering crises as a cause for change, also emphasizes interest groups that determine the real content of tax policy. Neo-Marxists (O’ Connor, 1973) analyze the crisis of the tax State within the framework of social classes. Korpi and Palme (2003) associ- ate classes and...

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