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Framing the tax and health nexus: a neglected aspect of public health concern

Mccoy, D; Chigudu, S; Tillmann, T; (2017) Framing the tax and health nexus: a neglected aspect of public health concern. Health Economics, Policy and Law , 12 (2) pp. 179-194. 10.1017/S174413311600044X. Green open access

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Abstract

Previous studies have described various associations between tax policy and health. Here we propose a unifying conceptual framework of ‘Five R’s’ to stimulate awareness about the importance of tax to health improvement. First, tax can improve representation and democratic accountability, and help make governments more responsive to the needs of its citizens. Second, tax can create a revenue stream for a universal pool of public finance for health care and other public services. Third, progressive taxation when combined with appropriate public spending can help redistribute wealth and income and mitigate social and health inequalities. Fourth, the re-pricing of harmful products (e.g. tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy food) can help reduce their consumption. Fifth, taxation provides a route by which certain harmful industries can be regulated. The paper also discusses the barriers that hinder the full potential for taxation to be used to improve health, including: weak tax administrations, large ‘shadow economies’, international trade liberalisation, tax avoidance, transfer pricing by transnational corporations and banking secrecy. We suggest that a greater awareness of the manifold associations between tax and health will encourage health practitioners to actively promote fairer and better taxation, thereby helping to improve health and reduce health inequalities.

Type: Article
Title: Framing the tax and health nexus: a neglected aspect of public health concern
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/S174413311600044X
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1017/S174413311600044X
Language: English
Additional information: © Cambridge University Press 2017 This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Health Policy & Services, Health Care Sciences & Services, Developing-Countries
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1551876
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