Taxes and human rights

Policy brief of the Tax Justice Network Germany

Fiscal policy – and hence also tax policy – is one of the most important steering instruments of governments. The true priorities of policies are often revealed more clearly by budgets and tax legislation than they are by declarations and action programmes. Also, a government’s fiscal policy reflects the political influence of certain interest groups. Are defence budgets or social welfare budgets being raised? Who enjoys tax reliefs, and how are they compensated for? Answers to these questions are crucial to whether governments are fulfilling their international and national commitments or whether they may not be meeting them under the pretext of budget policy constraints. The most important obligations of governments include respecting, protecting and ensuring human rights, among them the economic, social and cultural rights (ESC rights). Therefore, it is necessary to examine what impacts fiscal policy has on complying with and realising these rights.

By Wolfgang Obenland

Published by GPF Europe and Tax Justice Network Germany

Bonn/ Berlin, February 2013