UMass Amherst Econ PhD Candidate Nicolás Bohme will be named Coordinator of Tax Policy at the Ministry of Finance in the new government of President Gabriel Boric in Chile. Bohme will lead an ambitious progressive tax-reform program, which is among the new Government's highest priorities for structural reform. The new administration seeks to finance productive economic transformation and expansion of the Chilean welfare state through a package of taxes on capital income, wealth, and natural resources extraction, especially copper, which represents almost half of Chilean exports. According to Bohme, “The reforms will finance the government program in a fiscally responsible manner and align us with other developed countries in terms of progressivity and revenue as a percentage of GDP." Bohme also emphasized the fairness of the plan. "The fundamental consensus is that any increase in tax collection must be carried out with progressive instruments." Progressive taxation means that higher-income households pay a higher share of their incomes in taxes. The new Government takes office on Friday, March 11. President Gabriel Boric and the most important ministers in the new government (such as Camila Vallejo, Giorgio Jackson and Izkia Siches) started their careers as representatives of the student movement that changed the direction of Chilean politics a decade ago. They now lead a coalition between the Frente Amplio, the Communist Party, and the Socialist Party. The Government aims to leave behind 50 years of neoliberal policies and to pursue, instead, tax reform, pension and healthcare reforms, and industrial policies to reduce the country's dependence on natural resources extraction. Bohme coordinated the team of 30 experts that prepared the tax-reform plan.
"President Boric’s mandate is to build a broad agreement with the full range of political parties and civil society because we understand that the reforms must be sustainable and lasting," said Bohme, Bohme earlier served as an economist for the Ministry of Finance in the second administration of President Michelle Bachelet, who is now the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. In addition to his public service, Bohme is pursuing a Ph.D. in economics in the Department of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. "The Department has a long history of preparing people for public service in the public interest," said Department Chair James Heintz, Andrew Glyn Professor of Economics. "We are delighted to see Nicolás playing an important role in this progressive administration in Chile."