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Discretionary tax shocks in the United Kingdom 1945-2009: a narrative account and dataset

Cloyne, James S (2010): Discretionary tax shocks in the United Kingdom 1945-2009: a narrative account and dataset.

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Abstract

This paper constructs a narrative account of all legislated discretionary policy changes in the United Kingdom from 1945 to 2009. Following Romer and Romer (2009, 2010), evidence of the policymakers’ motivation is presented from U.K. official Budget documents together with technical notes, press releases, Acts of Parliament, the Budget speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and related entries in the parliamentary record (Hansard). The historical context in which the decision was made is also discussed. Using the given motives I isolate tax policy changes which were not responding to, or influenced by, current or prospective economic shocks. This ‘exogenous’ category is comprised of actions to improve long-run economic performance, those motivated by ideological or political reasons, rulings from external bodies such as courts, and fiscal consolidation measures based on long-run considerations. By contrast, the ‘endogenous’ changes are actions to manage demand, to stimulate production, to offset a debt crisis and those to fund spending decisions. For all the tax changes I collect information on the announcement, implementation and withdrawal dates as well as the type of the tax (such as income tax). The dataset contains nearly 2,500 tax changes and is aggregated into a quarterly series for analysis. In addition to creating a novel dataset this paper also contributes to the post-war history of U.K. taxation.

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