Assessment of the Environmental Tax System in Latvia

Māris Jurušs and Jānis Brizga

Abstract

Environmental taxes should play an important part in environmental policy as they help to internalize externalities, reduce damage, and increase the quality of life; besides they allow raising revenue for national and local governments. The aim of this paper is to evaluate environmental effectiveness, economic efficiency, equity impact, administrative feasibility and cost, and political acceptability of environmental (energy, transport, and natural-resource) taxes in Latvia. The study is based on desk research. The results demonstrate little evidence that existing environmental taxes lead to a significant reduction in environmental pollution and waste flows, but they have a significant fiscal effect. Most of the environmental taxes in Latvia apply direct and indirect subsidies, but most of the revenue comes from taxes on energy and transport. Environmental tax rates in Latvia are the result of political compromise and are not backed by the research on environmental costs of the particular activity. This paper fills the gap in environmental policy evaluation by looking at the performance and effectiveness of environmental taxes in Latvia.

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