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CEPAL Review

Cepal Review is the leading journal for the study of economic and social development issues in Latin America and the Caribbean. Edited by the Economic Commission for Latin America, each issue focuses on economic trends, industrialization, income distribution, technological development and monetary systems, as well as the implementation of economic reform and transfer of technology. Written in English and Spanish (Revista de la Cepal), each tri-annual issue offers approximately 12 studies and essays undertaken by authoritative experts or gathered from conference proceedings.

English Spanish

The redistributive potential of taxation in Latin America

This study uses internationally comparable methodologies to analyse the distributional impact of income tax and public transfers in 17 countries of Latin America. The results indicate that fiscal policy plays a limited role in improving the distribution of disposable income; the Gini coefficient decreased by barely three percentage points after direct fiscal action. On average, 61% of this reduction was due to public cash transfers and the rest to direct taxes, reflecting the pressing need for personal income tax to be strengthened. Analysis of household surveys gives an indication of the potential effects of tax reforms aimed at increasing the average effective tax rate of the top income decile. Allocating this additional revenue to targeted transfers would produce significant results. Consequently, tax reforms must be evaluated bearing in mind how those resources are used.

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