nep-pbe New Economics Papers
on Public Economics
Issue of 2015‒03‒05
24 papers chosen by
Thomas Andrén

  1. The Dynamic Economic Effects of a US Corporate Income Tax Rate Reduction By John W. Diamond; George R. Zodrow; Thomas S. Neubig; Robert J. Carroll
  2. Spillover Effects in a Federal Country with Vertical Tax Externalities By Lisa Grazzini; Alessandro Petretto
  3. Taxation and the optimal constraint on corporate debt finance By Peter Birch Sørensen
  4. Effects of fiscal policy in the North and South of Italy By Piacentini, Paolo; Prezioso, Stefano; Testa, Giuseppina
  5. US Supreme Court Unanimously Chooses Substance over Form in Foreign Tax Credit By Charles E McLure; Jack Mintz; George R. Zodrow
  6. The Efficiency of “Benefit-Related” Business Taxes By Elisabeth Gugl; George R. Zodrow
  7. How should governments promote distributive justice?: A framework for analyzing the optimal choice of tax instruments By David Gamage
  8. Heterogeneous Responses to Effective Tax Enforcement: Evidence from Spanish Firms By Miguel Almunia; David Lopez-Rodriguez
  9. The use of neutralities in international tax policy By David Weisbach
  10. Empirical evidence on tax cooperation between sub-central administrations By José María Durán-Cabré; Alejandro Esteller-Moré; Luca Salvadori
  11. A negotiation-based model of tax-induced transfer pricing By Johannes Becker; Ronald B Davies
  12. Public pressure and corporate tax behaviour By Scott D Dyreng; Jeffrey L Hoopes; Jaron H Wilde
  13. Should transactions services be taxed at the same rate as consumption? By Ben Lockwood; Erez Yerushalmi
  14. The Occurrence of Tax Amnesties: Theory and Evidence By Ralph-C. Bayer; Harald Oberhofer; Hannes Winner
  15. Taxing investments in the Asia-Pacific region: The importance of cross-border taxation and tax incentives By Wiedemann, Verena; Finke, Katharina
  16. Tax policy effects on entrepreneurship in canada, 1984-2009: A dynamic panel provincial data approach By Marco Lugo Rodriguez
  17. Household bargaining and the design of couples’ income taxation By Cremer, Helmuth; Lozachmeur, Jean-Marie; Maldonado, Dario; Roeder, Kerstin
  18. Taxation of shareholder income and the cost of capital in a small open economy By Peter Birch Sørensen
  19. Optimal Taxation with Incomplete Markets By Thomas Sargent; Mikhail Golosov; David Evans; anmol bhandari
  20. Are we heading towards a corporate tax system fit for the 21st century? By Michael P Devereux; John Vella
  21. Anticipation, Tax Avoidance, and the Price Elasticity of Gasoline Demand By John Coglianese; Lucas W. Davis; Lutz Kilian; James H. Stock
  22. Taking the High Road? Compliance with commuter tax allowances and the role of evasion spillovers By Jörg Paetzold; Hannes Winner
  23. The distributional incidence of growth: a social welfare approach By Flaviana Palmisano; Vito Peragine
  24. Tasks, Talents, and Taxes By Musab Kurnaz; Christopher Sleet; Laurence Ales

  1. By: John W. Diamond (Baker Institute for Public Policy, Rice University); George R. Zodrow (Baker Institute for Public Policy, Rice University); Thomas S. Neubig (Quantitative Economics and Statistics, Ernst & Young, LLP); Robert J. Carroll (Quantitative Economics and Statistics, Ernst & Young, LLP)
    Abstract: This paper focuses on a reduction in the statutory corporate income tax rate. Of course, a reduction in the corporate tax rate would have to be financed by expansion of the corporate tax base, an increase in other taxes, a reduction in spending, and/or an increase in the deficit. The analysis considers three potential financing alternatives: elimination of a wide range of business tax expenditures, an increase in individual income taxes on labor income, and a decrease in government expenditures in the form of income transfers. Each package is designed to be revenue neutral in a dynamic sense, that is, taking into account the effects of the reform over time on saving, investment, labor supply, and other 3 macroeconomic variables. The dynamic analysis in the paper reflects simulations of the macroeconomic effects of reform using a modified version of a dynamic, overlapping generations, computable general equilibrium model developed by Diamond and Zodrow.
    Date: 2014
  2. By: Lisa Grazzini (Università di Firenze); Alessandro Petretto (Università di Firenze)
    Abstract: We analyse how spillover effects may affect the choice of a federal tax rate in a federal country with vertical tax externalities. Our main result shows under which conditions the federal tax rate with spillover effects is lower or higher than the federal tax rate without spillover effects. The standard result on inefficiently high tax rates due to ver- tical tax externalities can be modi?fied by the reaction of the federal government to the horizontal externality due to spillover effects.
    Keywords: fiscal federalism, median voter, positive spillovers
    JEL: H71 H77 H41
  3. By: Peter Birch Sørensen (University of Copenhagen, Department of Economics)
    Abstract: The tax bias in favour of debt finance under the corporate income tax means that corporate debt ratios exceed the socially optimal level. This creates a rationale for thincapitalization rules limiting the amount of debt that qualifies for interest deductibility. This paper sets up a model of corporate finance and investment in a small open economy to quantify the deadweight loss from the asymmetric tax treatment of debt and equity and to identify the second-best optimal debt-asset ratio in the corporate sector. For plausible parameter values derived from data for the Norwegian economy, the deadweight loss from the tax distortions to corporate financing decisions amounts to 2-3 percent of total corporate tax revenue, and the socially optimal debt-asset ratio is 4-5 percentage points below the debt level currently observed. Driving the actual debt ratio down to this level would generate a total welfare gain of about 3 percent of corporate tax revenue. The welfare gain would arise partly from a fall in the social risks associated with corporate investment, and partly from the cut in the corporate tax rate made possible by a broader corporate tax base.
    Date: 2014
  4. By: Piacentini, Paolo; Prezioso, Stefano; Testa, Giuseppina
    Abstract: Abstract: This paper contributes to a growing body of work within ‘fiscal policy studies’, investigating for the recent role of fiscal policy on the Italian economy. Using annual data collected on regional basis, this study estimates and compares the (impact and cumulative) fiscal multipliers across the North and the South, the less developed area, of Italy. With recourse to a simultaneous equation model for the two macro-regions of Italy, it estimates the overall impact of the measures of budget consolidation policies in the period 2011-2013. Our analysis reveals that tax rises and spending cuts hit the South harder than the North.
    Keywords: Keywords: Tax multiplier, Government spending multiplier, Fiscal Policy.
    JEL: E23 E62 H20 H24
    Date: 2015–02–24
  5. By: Charles E McLure (Stanford University); Jack Mintz (University of Calgary); George R. Zodrow (Rice University)
    Abstract: In a recent unanimous decision in the PPL case, the US Supreme Court ruled that a one-timeretroactive British “Windfall Tax” levied on 32 public utilities that were privatised between 1984 and 1996 was eligible for the US foreign tax credit (FTC). The Court rejected the contention of the US Internal Revenue Service that eligibility for the FTC should be governed by the legislative form of the tax rather than its economic substance. This decision could have farreaching implications for the creditability of taxes that are not ordinarily thought to be income taxes, including various cash-flow business taxes that are key elements of several proposals recommending replacement of the income tax with a consumption-based tax. This article examines these issues, arguing that one and arguably both of the most common forms of cash flow consumption-based taxes should be creditable; it also discusses questions that remain about the interpretation of key regulatory requirements that govern creditability.
    Keywords: US Supreme Court PPL decision, windfall profits tax, foreign tax credit, cash flow tax, rent tax
    JEL: H25 H8
    Date: 2014
  6. By: Elisabeth Gugl (Department of Economics, University of Victoria); George R. Zodrow (Baker Institute for Public Policy, Rice University; Centre for Business Taxation, Oxford University)
    Abstract: Most of the tax competition literature focuses on the provision of local public services to households. However, a number of papers, dating back to Zodrow and Mieszkowski (1986), analyze tax competition when capital taxes are used to finance local public services provided to businesses, examining to which extent such services are provided efficiently, under-provided, or over-provided. In addition, several prominent observers have noted that “benefit-related” business taxation is desirable on efficiency and equity grounds and argued that such taxation should take the form of a production tax, such as an origin-based value added tax. We evaluate this contention in this paper, comparing within the context of a model of interjurisdictional competition the relative efficiency properties of business taxes that are assessed on production to those assessed on capital. We also provide a brief review of the literature on capital tax competition when public services are provided to businesses.
    Keywords: business public services, infrastructure, tax competition, capital taxes
    JEL: H41 H42 H21 H11
    Date: 2014
  7. By: David Gamage (University of California, Berkley)
    Abstract: What mix of policy instruments should governments employ to raise revenues or to promote distributional equity? The dominant answer to this question in the tax theory and public finance literatures is that (with limited exceptions) governments should rely exclusively on a progressive consumption tax. Thus, among other implications, the dominant view is that governments should not tax capital income or wealth, and that legal rules should not be designed to promote distributive justice. In contrast, this Article argues that governments should potentially make use of a number of tax and non-tax policy instruments to raise revenues and to promote distributional equity. Furthermore, this Article argues that governments may have much greater capacity to raise revenues and to promote distributional equity at lower efficiency costs than is generally recognized. Whereas the existing theoretical literature focuses on a small number of distortionary costs that result from taxation (in particular, on labor-toleisure and saving-to-spending distortions), this Article analyzes the implications of taxpayers engaging in a diverse variety of tax-gaming responses. To the extent that taxpayers respond to different tax instruments through different forms of tax gaming, this Article demonstrates that governments may be able to raise revenues and promote distributional equity more efficiently by employing a number of different policy instruments. Based on these insights, this Article develops a sufficient-statistics framework for analyzing optimal-choice-of-tax-instruments questions. Then, applying that framework, this Article argues that at least some legal rules should be designed to promote distributional equity. This Article further shows how to roughly calculate the optimal extent to which each such legal rule should be calibrated to promote distributional equity.
    Date: 2014
  8. By: Miguel Almunia (University of Warwick); David Lopez-Rodriguez (Banco de España)
    Abstract: We investigate whether monitoring the information trails generated by firms’ activities improves tax compliance. We exploit quasi-experimental variation generated by a Large Taxpayers’ Unit (LTU) in Spain, which devotes additional resources to verifying the transactions reported by firms with more than €6 million in reported revenue. Firms bunch below this threshold in order to avoid stricter tax enforcement, and this reaction is stronger in sectors where paper trail is easier to monitor. These results suggest that monitoring efforts by the tax authority and the traceability of information reported by firms are complements, and both are necessary for effective tax enforcement.
    Keywords: tax enforcement, firms, bunching, Spain, Large Taxpayers Unit (LTU).
    JEL: H26 H32
    Date: 2014
  9. By: David Weisbach (University of Chicago)
    Abstract: This paper analyzes the use of neutrality conditions, such as capital export neutrality, capital import neutrality, capital ownership neutrality, and market neutrality, in international tax policy. Neutralities are not appropriate tools for designing tax policy. They each identify a possible margin where taxation may distort business activities. Because these neutralities cannot be all satisfied simultaneously, however, they do not allow analysts to determine the appropriate trade-offs of theses distortions, unlike deadweight loss measures used in other areas of tax policy. International tax policy should instead be tied directly to the reasons for taxing capital income, reasons which are derived from optimal tax or simliar models.
    Keywords: International taxation, capital export neutrality, capital import neutrality, ownership neutrality, optimal taxation
    Date: 2014
  10. By: José María Durán-Cabré (Universidad de Barcelona & IEB); Alejandro Esteller-Moré (Universidad de Barcelona & IEB); Luca Salvadori (Universidad de Barcelona & IEB, TARC)
    Abstract: The literature on horizontal tax interdependence pays limited attention to interactions in administrative policies, although they can play a large role in determining the amount of tax revenues collected. We investigate the incentives for sub-central tax authority cooperation in a decentralized context, with the aim of identifying the determinants of that cooperation. Our results are congruent with standard theory; in particular, the existence of reciprocity is essential for sharing tax information, but there is sluggishness in this process, which is partly the result of the short-sighted behaviour of tax authorities influenced by budget constraints. Hence, this is good news for the functioning of a decentralized tax administration, as in the medium-long run the gains to be made from sharing tax information are achieved.
    Keywords: Tax information sharing, reciprocity, fiscal federalism
    JEL: H71 H77 H83
    Date: 2015
  11. By: Johannes Becker (University of Münster); Ronald B Davies (University College Dublin)
    Abstract: We present a new model of tax-induced transfer pricing as an alternative to the oft-used concealment model. Inspired by interviews with practitioners, we consider a large multinational ?firm which is audited by the tax authority in the high-tax location. When this country adjusts the transfer prices proposed by the fi?rm, the low-tax location may dispute this decision and initiate negotiations. Since negotiations are costly, the high-tax location sets a transfer price that prevents the low-tax location from entering negotiations. We compare this model?'s predictions to those of the concealment model. The negotiation model replicates the predictions on the tax rate effects on transfer pricing, while adding new predictions. Profi?t shifting is expected to fall in the high-tax country?'s bargaining power and to rise in ?firm profi?ts and domestic fi?rm ownership in both countries. Most importantly, profi?t shifting occurs even if tax enforcement is perfect. We analyze the effects of an introduction of a common consolidated corporate tax base with formula apportionment and conclude that the negotiation model may change the perspective on such a policy. Speci?cally, strong countries with large bargaining power may fi?nd this reform unappealing.
    Keywords: transfer pricing, Nash bargaining, tax avoidance, corporate taxation
    JEL: H25 H32 H87
    Date: 2014
  12. By: Scott D Dyreng (Fuqua School of Business, Duke University); Jeffrey L Hoopes (Fisher School of Business, Ohio State University); Jaron H Wilde (Tippie College of Business, University of Iowa)
    Abstract: We examine whether public pressure related to compliance with subsidiary disclosure rules influences corporate tax behaviour. ActionAid International, a non-profit activist group, levied public pressure on non-compliant UK firms in the FTSE 100 to comply with a rule requiring UK firms to disclose the location of all of their subsidiaries. We use this natural experiment to examine whether the public pressure led scrutinized firms to decrease tax avoidance and reduce the use of subsidiaries in tax haven countries relative to other firms in the FTSE 100 not affected by the public pressure. The evidence suggests that the public scrutiny sufficiently changed the costs and benefits of tax avoidance such that tax expense increased for scrutinized firms. The results suggest that public pressure from outside activist groups can exert a significant influence on the behaviour of large publicly-traded firms. Our findings extend prior research that has had little success documenting an empirical relation between public scrutiny of tax avoidance and firm behaviour.
    JEL: H25 H26 H20 G39
    Date: 2014
  13. By: Ben Lockwood (University of Warwick); Erez Yerushalmi (University of Warwick)
    Abstract: This paper considers the optimal taxation of transactions services in a dynamic general equilibrium setting, where households use both cash and costly transactions services provided by banks to purchase consumption goods. With a full set of all tax instruments, the optimal tax structure is indeterminate. However, all optimal tax structures distort the relative costs of payment media, by raising the relative cost of deposits to cash. In the simplest optimal tax structure, the Friedman rule holds i.e. cash should be untaxed, and the rate of tax on transactions services can be higher or lower than the consumption tax. When parameters are calibrated to US data, simulations suggest that the transactions services tax should be considerably lower. This is because a transactions tax has a "double distortion": it distorts the choice between payment media, and indirectly taxes consumption. This contrasts with the special case of the cashless economy, when the first distortion is absent: in this case, it is optimal to tax transactions services at the same rate as consumption.
    Keywords: financial intermediation services, tax design, banks, monitoring,payment services
    JEL: G21 H21 H25
    Date: 2014
  14. By: Ralph-C. Bayer (School of Economics, University of Adelaide); Harald Oberhofer (University of Salzburg); Hannes Winner (University of Salzburg and Austrian Institute of Economic Research)
    Abstract: This paper presents a theoretical model and empirical evidence to explain the occurrence of tax amnesties. We treat amnesties as endogenous, resulting from a strategic game between many taxpayers discounting future payments from punishment and a government that trades off costs and benefits of amnesty programs. From the model we derive hypotheses about the factors that should influence the occurrence of tax amnesties. For our empirical test we rely on amnesty information from US States between 1981 and 2011. In line with the theoretical model, our empirical findings suggest that the likelihood of amnesties is mainly driven by a government’s fiscal requirements and the taxpayers’ expectations on future amnesties.
    Date: 2014
  15. By: Wiedemann, Verena; Finke, Katharina
    Abstract: This paper investigates the taxation of investments in the Asia-Pacific region. Our analysis is based on the methodology of Devereux and Griffith (1999, 2003) for determining effective average tax rates. This approach allows us to account for important national and international tax regulations. Our results show that the overall dispersion of effective tax burdens in Asia-Pacific ranges from 10.6% in Hong Kong to 40.4% in India for domestic investments (overall average of 23.4%). In 8 out of 19 jurisdictions covered, investments are, however, effectively taxed at a rate between 20% and 25%. If the investment is made by a foreign investor, cross-border taxation has a significant impact on the overall tax burden. In any of the Asia-Pacific jurisdictions, foreign direct investments by a Singaporean or a German parent company are on average taxed at 29.2% and at 32.8% in case of a US investor. Meanwhile, tax incentives for the stimulation of private investment reduce the effective average tax rate by 8.6 percentage points on average. Fiscal incentives targeted at investments in the high technology sector or the development of specific geographic areas result in the lowest effective tax burdens.
    Keywords: Corporate Taxation,Effective Average Tax Rate,Tax Incentives,Asia
    Date: 2015
  16. By: Marco Lugo Rodriguez
    Abstract: In this paper, we examine the effects of fiscal policy on entrepreneurship outcomes in the Canadian provinces for the 1984 – 2009 period. This is the first paper to assess the impact of taxation on entrepreneurship in Canada by using intensive-margin measures (i.e. entrepreneurial income and employment) instead of more commonly used participation measures, as they are thought to be more closely related to policy goals such as entrepreneurial sustainability. A dynamic panel data approach is employed in order to account for potential trends in both taxation policy and entrepreneurial outcomes. The results are consistent with previous literature of the United States and indicate that if the trends, caused by incomplete labour mobility among other things, are indeed important then tax policy has no statistically significant impact on the measured entrepreneurial outcomes. <P>
    Keywords: Entrepreneurship, tax policy, dynamic panel estimators,
    Date: 2014–12–01
  17. By: Cremer, Helmuth; Lozachmeur, Jean-Marie; Maldonado, Dario; Roeder, Kerstin
    Abstract: This paper studies the design of couples’ income taxation when consumption and labor supply decisions within the couple are made by maximizing a weighted sum of the spouses’ utilities; bargaining weights are given but specific to each couple. Information structure and labor supply decisions follow the Mirrleesian tradition. However, while the household’s total consumption is publicly observable, the consumption levels of the individual spouses are not observable. With a utilitarian social welfare function we show that the expression for a spouses’ marginal income tax rate includes a “Pigouvian” (paternalistic) and an incentive term. The Pigouvian term favors a marginal subsidy (tax) for the high-weight (low-weight) spouse, whose labor supply otherwise tends to be too low (high). The sign and the magnitude of the incentive term depends on the weight structure across couples. In some cases both terms have the same sign and imply a positive marginal tax for the low-weight spouse (who may be female) and a negative one for the high-weight spouse (possibly the male). This is at odds with the traditional Boskin and Sheshinski results. Our conclusions can easily be generalized to more egalitarian welfare functions. Finally, we present numerical simulations based on a calibrated specification of our model. The calculations confirm that the male spouse may well have the lower (and possibly even negative) marginal tax rate.
    Keywords: Couples’ income taxation, household bargaining, optimal income taxation, household labor supply.
    JEL: D10 H21 H31
    Date: 2015–02
  18. By: Peter Birch Sørensen (University of Copenhagen, Department of Economics)
    Abstract: When companies finance their investment via the international markets for stocks and bonds, relief from domestic personal taxes on dividends and capital gains will not reduce the cost of capital. Some authors have shown that even for small domestic companies whose shares are not traded internationally, domestic shareholder tax relief will not necessarily reduce the cost of equity finance. This paper argues that, under realistic assumptions, domestic shareholder tax relief will in fact reduce the cost of capital for small firms. It also argues that a shareholder income tax on the equity premium with full loss offset will improve the allocation of risk in the economy.
    Date: 2014
  19. By: Thomas Sargent (New York University); Mikhail Golosov (Princeton University); David Evans (New York University); anmol bhandari (New York University)
    Abstract: This paper characterizes tax and debt dynamics in Ramsey plans for incomplete markets economies that generalize an Aiyagari et al. (2002) economy by allowing a single asset traded by the government to be risky. Long run debt and tax dynamics can be attracted not only to the first-best continuation allocations discovered by Aiyagari et al. for quasi-linear preferences, but instead to a continuation allocation associated with a level of (marginal-utility-scaled) government debt that would prevail in a Lucas-Stokey economy that starts from a particular initial level of government debt. The paper formulates, analyzes, and numerically solves Bellman equations for two value functions for a Ramsey planner, one for t ≥ 1, the other for t = 0.
    Date: 2014
  20. By: Michael P Devereux (University of Oxford); John Vella (University of Oxford)
    Abstract: The most significant problems with the existing system for taxing the profit of multinational companies stem from two related sources. First, the underlying “1920s compromise” for allocating the rights to tax profit between countries is both inappropriate and increasingly hard to implement in a modern economic setting. Second, because the system is based on taxing mobile activities, it invites countries to compete with each other to attract economic activity and to favour “domestic” companies. The OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) initiative essentially seeks to close loopholes rather than to re-examine these fundamental problems. As a consequence, it is unlikely to generate a stable long-run tax system. We briefly outline some more fundamental alternative reforms.
    Date: 2014
  21. By: John Coglianese; Lucas W. Davis; Lutz Kilian; James H. Stock
    Abstract: Traditional least squares estimates of the responsiveness of gasoline consumption to changes in gasoline prices are biased toward zero, given the endogeneity of gasoline prices. A seemingly natural solution to this problem is to instrument for gasoline prices using gasoline taxes, but this approach tends to yield implausibly large price elasticities. We demonstrate that anticipatory behavior provides an important explanation for this result. We provide evidence that gasoline buyers increase gasoline purchases before tax increases and delay gasoline purchases before tax decreases. This intertemporal substitution renders the tax instrument endogenous, invalidating conventional IV analysis. We show that including suitable leads and lags in the regression restores the validity of the IV estimator, resulting in much lower and more plausible elasticity estimates. Our analysis has implications more broadly for the IV analysis of markets in which buyers may store purchases for future consumption.
    JEL: H23 H26 Q41 Q47
    Date: 2015–02
  22. By: Jörg Paetzold (University of Salzburg); Hannes Winner (University of Salzburg)
    Abstract: We provide first field evidence on evasion spillovers as an important determinant of the individual compliance decision. Exploiting discontinuities in a self-reported commuter tax allowance, we observe a substantial share of taxpayers misreporting their claims. Using exogenous variation in job changes we find that individual evasion decisions are influenced by the compliance behaviour of other co-workers, with job changers from low- to high-cheating companies starting to evade much more after they move. In contrast, movers from high- to low-cheating companies do not alter their reporting. The most likely explanation is information transmission, including increased knowledge about the possibilities for non-compliance.
    Keywords: Tax Evasion, Self-Reporting, Spillover Eects, Information Frictions industrial clusters, infrastructure
    JEL: H24 H26 D83
    Date: 2014
  23. By: Flaviana Palmisano (Università di Bari); Vito Peragine (Università di Bari)
    Abstract: This paper provides a normative framework for the assessment of the distributional inci- dence of growth. By removing the anonymity axiom, such framework is able to evaluate the individual income changes over time and the reshuffling of individuals along the income distri- bution that are determined by the pattern of income growth. We adopt a rank dependent social welfare function expressed in terms of initial rank and individual income change and we ob- tain partial and complete dominance conditions over different growth paths. These dominance conditions account for the different components determining the overall impact of growth, that is the size of growth and its vertical and horizontal incidence. We then provide an empirical application for Italy: this analysis shows the distributional impact of the recent economic crisis suffered by the Italian population.
    Keywords: growth, pro-poor, inequality, income mobility, social welfare
    JEL: D31 D63 D71
  24. By: Musab Kurnaz (Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business); Christopher Sleet (Carnegie Mellon University); Laurence Ales (Carnegie Mellon University)
    Abstract: A large positive literature emphasizes the role of technological change in driving the demand for skill and talent. We consider the normative implications of such technical change for policy design.
    Date: 2014

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