By Leif Thomas Olsen
This paper responds to e.g. UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, COP 21’s Paris Agreement and the ongoing work within the EU/EC to develop more responsive tax systems across Members States. Although many such reports and proposals have been issued, and some useful tools developed to facilitate environmental impact-assessment in economic terms (e.g. SEEA), the platform for this debate still remains the century-old assumption that income and profit must constitute a basis for taxation. This paper describes why and how the tax system must be even more fundamentally redesigned;
(i) from being a tool that first and foremost is for the generation of public income and the discouragement of some (but not all) social, health and environmental ills (by increased levies).
(ii) to being a tool that first and foremost reduces the need for corrective government action and expenditures – by guiding corporate activities (and hence eventually also those of the general public) towards what benefits society at large – leading to better socioenvironmental conditions.