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Forum on Tax Reform

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Forum on Tax Reform

Fundamental Tax Reform: An International Perspective
Abstract - This paper examines trends in tax reforms. The analysis is limited to the experience of 30 OECD countries, and focuses particularly on changes since the year 2000. The paper analyses the general trend of reductions in both tax revenues and rates and the diversity in tax policies across OECD countries, reflecting the diversity in both economic circumstances and policy objectives. Developments in tax administration are also briefly dealt with. Some of the challenges for tax policymakers and administrators that are likely to arise over the next few years are identified, and possible alternative approaches to solving them are put forward.

INTRODUCTION ax reform is an ongoing process, with tax policymakers and tax administrators continually adapting their tax systems to reflect changing economic, social and political circumstances. Over the last two decades, almost all Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries have undertaken structural changes to their tax system that have significantly altered the way these systems function and their economic and social impacts.1 In some countries (for example, many of the Eastern European economies in transition), the reforms have been profound and implemented over a very short period of time. In others (most of the European countries), the reforms have been a gradual process of adaptation, but over time they have substantially redesigned their tax systems. One can argue about whether this second group of countries can be characterized as having undertaken “fundamental” tax reform, but this seems to be no more than a semantic debate. Few would disagree that the tax systems in operation in the 30 OECD Member countries today truly are fundamentally different from those that operated in the mid–1980s. These tax reforms have…...

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