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Indirect taxation: Value Added Tax and excise taxes

General expenditure taxes such as Value Added Tax (VAT) tend to be regressive because poorer households need to spend more of their income than richer households on household goods. However, the regressive nature of VAT can be reduced if certain goods are exempted or zero-rated, such as basic foods and children’s clothing. This reduces the incidence of VAT on households with women members, since they are more likely than men to live with children and be in poorer households.

Many of the goods on which specific excise taxes are levied are those that have harmful effects such as fuel, alcohol or tobacco, where taxation is designed in part to discourage overuse. In most countries men consume more of these goods than women, so pay more of their income in these taxes. However, where men control household resources, they may be able to pass on the additional costs of excise taxes to women and children in their household by reducing spending on goods and services that are consumed by other household members.