The rise of the Value Added Tax (VAT) from obscure beginnings in the 1950s to one of the most important taxes in the world (by revenue collected) is a story worth telling, and Kathryn James does a magnificent job in telling it in her new book. Despite its significance, very little is known about why so many countries have adopted the VAT and, in particular, why different countries adopt the types of VAT that they do. The popular mythology provides that the merits of the VAT have underpinned its global spread; however, this book contends that much scholarship on the VAT confuses the question of why the VAT has risen to dominance with the issue of what makes a good VAT. The book combines policy and legal analysis to propose a new way of understanding the rise of this important revenue instrument so as to better reflect the realities of the VATs that are actually implemented.


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