Post-Communist tax reform, like institutional reform in other areas of the post-Communist transition, holds tremendous material consequences for different groups in society. Consequently, one would expect the allocation of resources and the distribution of the financial burden of that allocation to be highly sensitive to domestic politics. Indeed the political stakes should be especially high since post-Communist tax reform requires not merely a simple adjustment at the margin, but the fundamental reallocation of the responsibility for government revenue. In Eastern Europe, however, important areas of tax policy do not reflect traditional domestic variables (e.g., interest groups and partisanship) so much as the international imperatives associated with regional and global economic integration.
In Tax Politics in Eastern Europe , Hilary Appel analyzes the domestic and international factors that drive tax policy. She begins with a review of the greatest challenges in the initial creation of the capitalist tax systems in former Communist states and then turns to the evolution of specific forms of taxation in order to gauge the relative impact of domestic politics on tax policy. Appel concludes that, although some tax areas, such as personal income taxes, remain politicized, most other taxes, such as corporate income taxes and all forms of consumption taxes, have been less subject to domestic political pressures because of powerful constraints resulting from regional and global economic integration.
"This is a fascinating argument about the influence of international factors on taxation policy, and a very welcome corrective to prevailing views. The analysis is rigorous and compelling, and of great interest to scholars of post-communist politics, globalization, and fiscal policy."
—Anna Grzymala-Busse, University of Michigan
"Hilary Appel has written a delightful book clearly distinguishing between influences on tax policy in Eastern Europe. In a surprisingly easy read, she sorts out European integration, global competition, domestic politics, and ideology. This is an interesting, original, differentiated, and substantial piece of work."
—Anders Åslund, Peterson Institute for International Economics
"This is the first book to systematically examine the variation in policies of Eastern European countries. There is a theoretical contribution to understandings of variation in tax policies, but just as impressive is the in-depth empirical analysis and in particular the data from interviews with key players in the process."
—Yoshiko Herrera, University of Wisconsin--Madison
Jacket photograph: Modern Building and Palace of Culture, Warsaw, Poland, © iStockphoto.com/Maciej Noskowski