Out now: How Labour ended up taxing itself and why it matters

I wrote a piece about the historical evolution of tax policy debates in Germany over the last 100 years. Took me quite a while to digest 50plus parliamentary debates, but it is fun to read the old typeset of the protocols 100 years ago.


By the way, chapeau to the Bavarian State Library to put all the debates online and with a search engine:

How Labour ended up taxing itself and why it matters: The long-term evolution of politics in German labour taxation

Achim Kemmerling

Department of Public Policy, CEU Budapest, Nador Utca, Hungary

Achim Kemmerling, Department of Public Policy, CEU Budapest, Nador Utca 9, Budapest 1051, Hungary. Email: Kemmerlinga@ceu.hu


This article argues that the long-term shift in the incidence of taxation from capital to labour has shifted the centre of political conflicts from representatives of capital to those of labour. The fact that most taxation has become an increasing and regressive burden on labour in mature welfare states creates new divides in tax policies among left politicians. To demonstrate this, the article applies the literature on new divides to the case of tax policy. A comparison of German tax policy debates in the late 19th and late 20th centuries reveals that major conflict lines were intra-class, and that over time these lines have shifted from capital to labour. The article concludes that as the origins of new divides are often endogenous to welfare-state politics, the literature on new divides greatly benefits from a historical ‘turn’.


For an older (a bit dated) working paper version see here


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