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Does tax policy fit in the portfolio of COVID-19 responses?

Kerrie Sadiq (Department of Accountancy, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)
Richard Krever (Law School, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia)

Pacific Accounting Review

ISSN: 0114-0582

Article publication date: 1 March 2021

Issue publication date: 10 August 2021




Tax policymakers are currently navigating a path through a delicate dialectic of macro- and micro-level policy responses to the economic dislocation of the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of this paper is to examine initial tax measures that are aimed at helping taxpayers needing liquidity, solvency and income support.


This study undertakes a review of key tax policy responses of six jurisdictions across the globe that have similar tax regimes and virus mitigation strategies (albeit with different outcomes). Key initiatives implemented from February to April 2020 by Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa and the UK are examined.


This study indicates that tax concessions are a crude and mostly ineffective way of assisting individuals and enterprises in difficulty. In the longer term, if the crisis prompts desirable reforms such as extending the recognition of tax losses, the income tax system will emerge fairer and more efficient.

Practical implications

An investigation of the short-term reforms announced relating to asset write-offs, tax deferral, tax losses and goods and services tax/value-added tax rates in light of the liquidity, income support and stimulus objectives shows that in some cases the policies may have been misguided. The findings can be used by policymakers as the basis for designing better targeted alternative non-tax responses.


Jurisdictional responses to tax policy reforms during a modern period of significant economic dislocation have yet to be documented in the literature. Specifically, this paper highlights the limitations of tax policy initiatives as a response to financial hardship.



Sadiq, K. and Krever, R. (2021), "Does tax policy fit in the portfolio of COVID-19 responses?", Pacific Accounting Review, Vol. 33 No. 2, pp. 212-220.



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