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Effective marginal tax rates and work disincentives


This paper examines the problems faced by low and middle income earners as a result of high effective marginal tax rates (‘EMTRs’). It is primarily concerned with the negative impact of these high EMTRs on workforce participation. The paper explores some of the reasons for high EMTRs, caused by the poor meshing of the tax and transfer systems, and the implications of those high EMTRs. It identifies the benefits that could be achieved through reform of the tax system, but recognises that the EMTR problem cannot be resolved without a more fundamental reform of both the tax and the welfare systems. This need for fundamental reform is illustrated through the plight of the single parent forced into the workforce as a result of recent changes to social security arrangements. The paper finally identifies an alternative approach, extensively used in some provinces of Canada, that may represent a more positive way forward.

Author profiles:

Author Photo - Christopher Evans
Prof Christopher Evans
Chris is Professor of Taxation and former Head of the Australian School of Taxation (Atax) at UNSW Australia. He specialises in comparative taxation, capital and wealth taxation, tax law and administration, tax policy and reform. His PhD from UNSW was a comparative study of the operating costs of taxing capital gains. He also holds a master’s degree in European Political Integration from Leicester University and a Bachelor’s honours degree in Economics from London University, as well as postgraduate educational qualifications from Leeds University. He has researched and published extensively in taxation, and is a co-author of Australian Taxation Law and Cooper & Evans on CGT. He is General Editor of Australian Tax Review and Editorial Board member of other journals. He has served on a number of governmental and professional body committees and working parties in Australia and overseas, including the UK’s Mirrlees Committee and the HMRC International Panel on tax administration. Current at 04 July 2014 Click here to expand/collapse more articles by Chris EVANS.
Binh is an Associate Professor, School of Taxation and Business Law, UNSW and Senior Fellow, Taxation Law and Policy Research Institute, Monash University.
Current at 01 May 2014
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Brian is a visiting fellow at Charles Darwin University.
Current at April 2007
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