The Philippine-American Educational Foundation (Fulbright Commission in the Philippines) together with the Third World Studies Center of the University of the Philippines – Diliman hosted a roundtable discussion (RTD) on “Decentralization and the Politics of Local Taxation” by Mr. Ryan Tans, 2014 U.S. Fulbright Student Scholar and a Third World Studies Center (TWSC) Visiting Research Fellow.
Mr. Ryan is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Political Science in Emory University. He has an MA on Southeast Asian Studies from National University of Singapore. His research interests are on comparative politics, clientelism, local politics, decentralization, taxation and Southeast Asia.
The RTD was held last Monday, May 11, 2015, 2:00pm at the Third World Studies Center, Lower Ground Floor, Palma Hall of the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy of the University of the Philippines – Diliman and it was free and open to the public.
You may read Mr. Ryan’s abstract below:
“Classic theories in public finance advocate the decentralized provision of public goods, but financing local service provision poses a dilemma. When local governments collect taxes, they often impose regressive and overlapping taxes that are economically inefficient; yet, when central governments collect taxes, local governments tend to misuse centrally provided funds. Some argue that local elections can solve this dilemma by pressuring local officials to adopt efficient taxes, such as the property tax, in order to improve service provision. Yet, it is not certain that elections will have this effect. Wealthy taxpayers can resist taxation by organizing lobbies, relocating their assets, and contributing campaign finance. In contrast, I argue that efficient taxation is possible when wealthy taxpayers are organized enough to impose on local governments their demands for infrastructure and law and order. Specifically, wealthy taxpayers will concede to higher taxes on their property if their economic interests require increased public investment, and their political influence enables them to force local governments to spend the additional revenue on their particular concerns. I test my thesis by combining cases studies of Iloilo City, Batangas City, and Cebu City and statistical analysis of Philippine city governments.”