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Belt and Road Initiative Tax Journal 1(1) 2020


The COVID-19 pandemic is killing hundreds of thousands of people and crippling businesses worldwide. There is no medical cure or vaccine yet. To prevent COVID-19 from crushing the health care system, non-essential activities have been paused and people are asked to stay home and keep “social distancing” in order to slow down the spread of the virus. Between 37 and 40 percent of jobs in the United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK) and Sweden can plausibly be performed entirely at home, but most workers cannot continue working. Such pause means no income for workers and no revenues for businesses while necessity expenditures continue rising. To fight the COVID-19 “war” through pausing the economy, governments have resorted to tax policy instruments as well as fiscal and monetary instruments to support workers and businesses during the pause period.

In this paper, we canvass the tax policy weaponry in the context of overall COVID-19 relief measures in Brazil, Canada, Denmark, the UK and US. These countries represent different contexts and approaches to fighting against the common invisible “enemy” — COVID-19. Our goal is to see how tax measures are used, whether there is much similarity among the selected countries, and what the likely implications for the long term are. We make some general observations about the possible changes for the post- COVID-19 tax system.

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