Tax policy in crisis?

They say that times of crisis can bring out the best and the worst in people.

Carolyn Palmer

We know this about human behaviour, but can the same be said of governments and policy makers?

Victoria University PhD student Carolyn Palmer plans to answer this question as the first-ever recipient of the Robin Oliver Tax Policy Scholarship, which is offered by Tax Management New Zealand.

Carolyn is using her $30,000 study award to travel to Australia and Japan to find out more about tax policy in those countries following natural disasters.

In New Zealand, she’ll do the same, with a focus on the Canterbury earthquakes.

Ultimately, Carolyn wants to see if the principles of good tax policy hold when countries face economic shocks such as natural disasters and, if not, what causes them to unravel.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity. I want to get a detailed picture of how different jurisdictions respond and the kinds of tax policy issues that come up.

“I also want to get a good idea of all the influences at play and what causes governments and policy makers to change tax policy during times of crisis.”

Over the past 10 years Carolyn has worked as a senior tax advisor to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD), the Treasury and a Minister of Finance. She has also worked in the private sector.

Professor Norman Gemmell is one of Carolyn’s supervisors and Chair in Public Finance, a joint venture between Victoria University, PricewaterhouseCoopers, IRD, the Treasury and the Ministry of Social Development.

“We’re very excited about Carolyn’s research. It’s highly relevant and it’ll give officials and the public real-world findings they can pick up, debate and use straight away.”