How can states expand their fiscal capacity in the 21st century? I examine this question by looking at one of the most powerful contemporary fiscal tools at hand – the Value-Added Tax (VAT). Using a novel dataset on VAT rates worldwide since 2000, I argue that fiscal problem pressure can lead to an expanded usage of the VAT. However, this effect depends on the type of political regime. Whereas democracies tend to raise VAT in dire fiscal times, VAT rates in autocracies are more immune to fiscal pressure. Furthermore, I demonstrate that a worse cost-benefit ratio of VAT increases in autocracies can account for this variation. These findings call for a closer investigation of political regime dynamics and fiscal policy-making worldwide.