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The Irish Tax State and Historical Legacies: Slowly Converging Capacity, Persistent Unwillingness to Pay

Chapter in book
Authors Michelle D'Arcy
Marina Nistotskaya
Published in Douglass Kanter and Patrick Walsh (eds.) Taxation, Politics, and Protest in Ireland, 1662-2016.
Pages 331-355
ISBN 978-3-030-04308-7
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Place of publication London
Publication year 2019
Published at Quality of Government Institute (QoG)
Department of Political Science
Pages 331-355
Language en
Keywords state capacity, tax compliance, path-dependency
Subject categories Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)


The hallmarks of the modern Irish tax state have been its low yield, narrow base, and instability. In 2016, tax revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) was 23 per cent, below the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) average of 34 per cent. The European Commission has recently again warned about the dangers of the country’s narrow tax base. Ireland has faced persistent problems of fiscal sustainability, most recently since the financial crash in 2008. While proximate factors, like the state of the economy and policy choices around tax types and rates, help to explain the character of the Irish tax state, we argue that historical legacies are also important for understanding contemporary outcomes, as the development of tax states is a path-dependent process. We track the development of the Irish tax state along two main pathways: formal institutions related to the administrative capacity of the tax authority, and attitudes towards taxation, which are shaped by levels of taxation and fairness in its distribution and revealed through supportive or oppositional popular responses to tax.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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