International Tax and Public Finance

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 299–316

What Makes the Personal Income Tax Progressive? A Comparative Analysis for Fifteen OECD Countries

  • Adam Wagstaff
  • Eddy van Doorslaer

DOI: 10.1023/A:1011268209860

Cite this article as:
Wagstaff, A. & van Doorslaer, E. International Tax and Public Finance (2001) 8: 299. doi:10.1023/A:1011268209860


In this paper, we explore the roles of tax credits, rate structures, allowances and deductions in determining the overall progressivity of net income tax liabilities in fifteen OECD countries. Three clusters emerge: (i) the rate-structure countries, Australia, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, where the rate effect is the dominant (but not the only) source of progressivity of gross and net tax liabilities; (ii) the allowance countries, the English-speaking countries other than Australia, where allowances are the dominant source of progressivity; and (iii) the mixed structure countries, Belgium, Finland, Germany and Sweden, where roughly half of the progressivity of gross tax liabilities is attributable to the rate structure.

personal income tax sources of progressivity 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adam Wagstaff
    • 1
  • Eddy van Doorslaer
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Social SciencesUniversity of SussexBrighton
  2. 2.Department of Health Policy and ManagementErasmus UniversityThe Netherlands

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