Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Roundtable Discussion on "Decentralization and the Politics of Local Taxation" with Ryan Tans

A Roundtable Discussion with Mr. Ryan Tans, PhD candidate
11 May 2015 (Monday), 2:00 - 5:00PM
Conference Room, Third World Studies Center, Lower Ground Floor
Palma Hall, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy,
University of the Philippines-Diliman, Quezon City

The Third World Studies Center of UP Diliman and the Philippine-American Educational Foundation (Fulbright Commission in the Philippines) cordially invite you to a presentation to a roundtable discussion (RTD) on "Decentralization and the Politics of Local  Taxation" by Third World Studies Center (TWSC) Visiting Research Fellow Ryan Tans from Emory University.

Mr. Tans is a PhD candidate at the Department of Political Science in Emory University. He has an MA on Southeast Asian Studies from National University of Singapore. His research interests are on comparative politics, clientelism, local politics, decentralization, taxation, Southeast Asia.

The RTD is FREE and OPEN to faculty members and graduate students. 


Classic theories in public finance advocate the decentralized provision of public goods, but financing local service provision poses a dilemma. When local governments collect taxes, they often impose regressive and overlapping taxes that are economically inefficient; yet, when central governments collect taxes, local governments tend to misuse centrally provided funds. Some argue that local elections can solve this dilemma by pressuring local officials to adopt efficient taxes, such as the property tax, in order to improve service provision. Yet, it is not certain that elections will have this effect. Wealthy taxpayers can resist taxation by organizing lobbies, relocating their assets, and contributing campaign finance. In contrast, I argue that efficient taxation is possible when wealthy taxpayers are organized enough to impose on local governments their demands for infrastructure and law and order. Specifically, wealthy taxpayers will concede to higher taxes on their property if their economic interests require increased public investment, and their political influence enables them to force local governments to spend the additional revenue on their particular concerns. I test my thesis by combining cases studies of Iloilo City, Batangas City, and Cebu City and statistical analysis of Philippine city governments.


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