Environmental Tax Policy Institute
Vermont Law School's Environmental Tax Policy Institute analyzes the ways in which taxation can be used to address environmental problems. By serving as a resource for the public and private sectors, non-governmental organizations, the press and academia, the Institute seeks to better inform the public policy debate about the role of environmental taxes at the local, state and federal levels.
New and Noteworthy
The Reality of Carbon Taxes in the 21st Century In 2009, the Environmental Tax Policy Institute published a book containing four articles that provide international perspectives on the use of carbon taxes to address climate change. Prof. Janet Milne, Director of the Environmental Tax Policy Institute, offers the US context for considering carbon taxes. Two European specialists in environmental taxation-Prof. Mikael Skou Andersen from Denmark and Dr. Stefan Speck from Austria-discuss European countries' experiences with carbon taxes, including their relationship to the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme. Canada's Prof. David Duff analyzes the carbon tax that British Columbia enacted in 2008. The publication is a joint project with the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law.
Critical Issues in Environmental Taxation: International and Comparative Perspectives, Volume VI
Released in September 2010, this volume contains 36 articles about the use of environmental taxation and other economic instruments around the world. Many of the articles focus on climate change. Professor Janet Milne is one of the co-editors of the book series. For more information, visit the Oxford University Press website.
What is Environmental Taxation?
People often think of taxation and the environment as two entirely different worlds—two circles that do not intersect. Governments impose taxes to raise the revenues they need to operate; governments get involved in environmental matters to protect the public interest. However, the two circles do intersect. Governments can—and do—use tax policies to achieve environmental goals.
Environmental taxes come in many different forms, but as a general matter environmental tax measures either impose a tax cost on some product or activity that is environmentally damaging, or they give a tax benefit to some product or activity that is environmentally beneficial.
For example, the federal government imposes a significant excise tax on ozone-depleting chemicals, and it offers a tax credit to people who buy electric vehicles. In both instances, the tax code has altered the "price" of the commodity, injecting an important signal into the economic calculations that affect behavior.
All types of tax systems—income tax, estate tax, property tax, and excise tax—potentially can incorporate environmental tax measures, and all levels of government—local, state, and federal—can consider environmental taxes. Environmental taxes will not necessarily replace traditional environmental regulation. In some instances, they may complement regulation, and in others they may provide an option when regulation is not appropriate.
The Institute's Services
On a project-by-project basis, Vermont Law School's Environmental Tax Policy Institute will conduct research on a wide range of environmental tax issues. Potential projects could include:
- the application of environmental taxation to specific environmental issues, such as energy consumption, toxic waste, sprawl, water and air quality, and habitat protection;
- issues involved in the design of sound environmental taxes;
- constitutional questions raised by the use of environmental taxes;
- assessments of the extent to which governments in the United States and around the world are using environmental taxes; and
- the role of environmental taxation compared with other approaches to environmental problems.
The projects may result in publications, white papers, and conferences or workshops. Anyone interested in exploring the potential for a project is invited to contact the Institute.
For More Information
For more information about the Environmental Tax Policy Institute, please contact:
Professor Janet E. Milne, Director
Environmental Tax Policy Institute
Vermont Law School
164 Chelsea Street
South Royalton, VT 05068 U.S.A.