Tax rates and tax structures differ markedly across the rich countries, and play a key role in reducing inequality but may also reduce employment. This chapter addresses the following questions: do taxes reduce inequality directly, or do they contribute to redistribution chiefly by providing the revenue for transfers? To what extent does globalization constrain governments' ability to maintain large and progressive tax systems? Have countries been moving toward more or less redistributive types of taxation? Do taxes in fact impede employment? The chapter argues that a tax policy conducive to low income inequality and high employment should have four principal features: taxes should generate a high level of revenues, in order to finance generous transfers and services; the tax system should be progressive, or at worst minimally regressive; payroll and consumption taxes should be moderate, so as not to impede employment growth in low-end services; and to encourage investment and entreneurship and prevent capital flight, there should be a relatively low statutory rate and a not-too-high effective tax rate on capital.
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