Taxes for independence: Rejecting a fiscal model of reciprocity in peri-urban Bolivia - Dr Miranda Sheild Johansson

9 October 2019, 1.00 PM - 9 October 2019, 3.00 PM

Dr Miranda Sheild Johansson, University College London

G.10, 43 Woodland Road

Taxes for independence: Rejecting a fiscal model of reciprocity in peri-urban Bolivia

In recent years, the Evo Morales government has been reaching out to their informally employed population, asking them to become taxpayers and enter into a reciprocal relationship with the state – one of fiscal contributions in return for welfare, infrastructure, and rights. But the said population rejects the underlying logics of the extended offer.

Based on fieldwork conducted in 2018, this talk discusses the actions and rationale of these would-be-taxpayers. My interlocutors disaggregated the fiscal landscape, choosing to engage with some taxes whilst avoiding others, and understood the exchanges that did take place as vehicles for independence from the state, as opposed to interdependence with the state.

An anthropology of tax must do the same: de-construct fiscal systems and examine the multiple morals, logics, and affects at play. Specifically, reciprocity should not be assumed to be an organising principle of fiscal imaginaries or realities.

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