Central and Local Government Taxation Compared
Chapter 5 examines tax collection costs taxes over thirty years (arguably a policy domain with a strong ‘bottom line’ where one might expect a combination of managerialism and the application of new information technology to have a particularly strong impact). It compares central government tax collection (which emphasized big centralized information technology initiatives) with the more decentralized and less IT-intensive tax collection system in English local government. In both cases tax collection was disrupted over the period by major tax policy changes (particularly Margaret Thatcher’s ill-fated poll tax), central government tax collection costs rose steadily over three decades while local government costs were more stable apart from a spike over the poll tax period, and the two systems do not seem to have differed markedly over cost-to-yield. The more decentralized and low-tech local government system did not perform markedly worse on cost than its IT-intensive central government counterpart.
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