Gender, Taxation, and Equality in Developing Countries


Lahey, Kathleen. 2018. “Gender, Taxation, and Equality in Developing Countries.” Discussion Paper, UN Women, New York. 

Author: Kathleen Lahey


“Attention to the gender impact of tax laws has been accelerated by key trends in public finance policy frameworks. Beginning in 2005, the OECD and other international organizations began to recommend that countries at all levels of development focus on tax and spending cuts to stimulate economic growth. In the aftermath of the 2007/2008 global financial crisis, although many countries responded to the crisis by expanding selected spending measures to offset the recessionary effects of the crisis, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) began in 2010 to turn the focus back to fiscal consolidation through tax and spending cuts to promote economic recovery. Since then, the majority of countries at all levels of development began to replace crisis policies with fiscal austerity programmes to cut spending on public resources and shift revenue production from progressive tax structures to regressive consumption taxes and privatization of public assets and services. 
“During this past decade, income inequalities have increased gaps between rich and poor due to lower levels of taxation on high incomes, increased business and individual use of transnational tax reductions and tax havens, over-reliance on short term extractive revenues and tax incentives to the corporate sector, and falling levels of public support for key drivers of economic development such as health, education, transportation, and income security spending. 
“All of these changes have drawn increased attention to the gender impact of tax and budgetary policies as it became clear even at the outset of the 2007/8 crisis that cuts to public spending, privatization of income support, health, and educational programmes, and the growing concentration of income and capital in the hands of the wealthy all increase after-tax income inequalities that are particularly damaging to those with low incomes and limited economic resources. Women are over-represented in both categories in every country, as are both men and women living in low- and medium-income countries. 
“This discussion paper examines the gender effects of taxation and related fiscal policies within a framework integrating three critical perspectives: the realities of women’s continuing economic, social, legal, and political inequalities; new global commitments to end poverty and all forms of sex discrimination; and the possibilities for shifting tax policy priorities from the present emphasis on taxing for economic growth to prioritize taxing for equality -- including taxing for gender equality, women’s empowerment, and eco- nomic security over the life course. 
“Within this framework, the gender effects of the main types of taxes used in domestic tax systems are discussed along with promising alternative tax policies to promote gender equality. This discussion paper addresses both core elements of the knowledge agenda for gender-equal fiscal policy with particular focus on developing and emerging countries, and the full range of gender effects and gender equal policy options for all aspects of personal, corporate, and consumption tax laws at the domestic and global levels” (Lahey 2018, 1).
Table of Contents:
1. Taxing for Gender Equality: Economic Realities and Human Rights Norms
2. Gender Issues in Personal Income Taxation
3. Corporate Income Taxation and Gender Issues
4. Impact of the VAT on Gender Equality and Ability to Pay
5. Conclusion and Recommendations

Topics: Development, Economies, Economic Inequality, Public Finance, Gender, Women, International Organizations

Year: 2018

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