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Tax

Sheild Johansson, CM; (2020) Tax. Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology pp. 1-16. 10.29164/20tax. Green open access

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Abstract

Paying tax or avoiding tax is part of everyday life across the globe. But what kinds of payments are taxes, and how do fiscal systems shape society? Taxes are often conceived of as a nexus of state-citizen relations and an intrinsic part of a social contract where they are exchanged for political representation and a level of state protection. But ethnographic evidence demonstrates that separating out taxes from other payments is not straightforward, and the motivations for paying tax, or collecting tax, are far from universal. In addition to shaping national and international economies, taxes construct social and political relations which cast citizens and communities in particular roles, such as ‘contributor’ and ‘wealth creator’, or ‘dependant’ and ‘scrounger’. As such, taxes are political tools that are wielded in processes of governance. Yet fiscal systems are also crafted from the bottom up, through taxpayer action and taxpayer logics, and gain meanings from the broader historical and cultural contexts in which they exist. In recent years, and in the context of multiple financial, environmental, and health crises across the globe, discussions about how we might build better futures have put the spotlight on taxes as a tool for redistribution. The logics that drive new tax policies and laws are embedded in specific concepts of tax justice and tax competition, as well as the relation between the sovereign state and the international community. Tax is a locus of many important themes, both academic and political. Understanding tax is crucial to understanding our societies.

Type: Article
Title: Tax
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.29164/20tax
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.29164/20tax
Language: English
Additional information: © 2020 Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology. This text is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10119439
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