National Political Community and the Politics of Income Taxation in Brazil and South Africa in the 20th Century

Author(s): Evan Lieberman 

Status/Format: Published

Date: 2001

Publication Type: Journal Article

Publisher: Politics & Society

Volume and Issue: 29(4)

Page Numbers: 515 - 555


Why was the South African state so much more successful than the Brazilian state in its attempts to collect income taxes during the twentieth century? Nationally distinctive tax policies and patterns of administration can be explained by examining the impact of contrasting definitions of National Political Community, specified in critical constitutions written around the turn of the century. The ways in which racial and spatial cleavages were addressed in the 1891 Brazilian constitution and the 1909 South Africa Act influenced the development of interclass and intraclass relations, which in turn affected the willingness of upper-income groups to accept state demands for income tax payments. Varied patterns of state development were largely predicated on contested notions of “us” and “them.”