Tax policy is an important lever that governments can use to influence behavior and raise revenue for public spending.
Several posts on the EA Forum have explored how different tax policies could be used for social good:
- A major focus is on sin taxes - taxes on goods like tobacco, alcohol, and meat. These taxes can disincentivize consumption of products with negative externalities, while also raising funds. For example, Open Philanthropy's report on tobacco control argues that raising tobacco taxes is one of the most cost-effective interventions. Other posts make the case for higher alcohol and meat taxes to reduce public health costs and animal suffering.
- Some posts look at tax policy more broadly. One advocates for greater tax justice to combat tax avoidance and evasion via tax havens. Another cautions that a wealth tax could have unpredictable effects on politics and philanthropy. There is also discussion on whether EAs should prioritize advocacy for higher taxes on the ultra-wealthy.
- Several posts examine more novel tax policy ideas. One suggests a data tax to slow down potentially dangerous AGI progress.
Non-governmental organizations that influence tax policy:
- OECD - The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is an international organization that develops global tax standards and initiatives to address tax avoidance/evasion. They have helped coordinate international cooperation on tax transparency and information exchange.
- IMF - The International Monetary Fund provides policy advice and capacity-building support to help developing countries improve their tax administration and mobilize domestic revenue. They advocate for more progressive tax systems globally.
- Civil society/advocacy groups - Organizations like Oxfam, Tax Justice Network, Global Alliance for Tax Justice campaign for tax justice, especially in low-income countries. They pressure governments and international bodies for tax reforms.
- Corporate lobby groups - Industry associations lobby governments to advance private sector interests on taxes, often pushing for lower corporate tax rates and incentives.
- Professional services firms - Accounting/law/consulting firms like the Big 4 (EY, Deloitte, PwC and KPMG) and McKinsey shape tax policy debates and norms through thought leadership reports, conferences, and secondees in government.
- Academic institutions - Academics and think tanks produce research that informs real-world tax policy. Groups like the IFS, CAGE, and the Tax Policy Center analyze the impacts of tax reforms.
- Philanthropic foundations - Foundations like the Gates Foundation fund research and advocacy on tax policy issues like financial transparency, capital gains taxes, and carbon taxes.