nep-pub New Economics Papers
on Public Finance
Issue of 2006‒06‒03
thirteen papers chosen by
Kwang Soo Cheong
Johns Hopkins University

  1. Optimal Marginal and Average Income Taxation under Maxi-min By Robin Boadway; Laurence Jacquet
  2. Bequests, Taxation and the Distribution of Wealth in a General Equilibrium Model By Christian Kleiber; Martin Sexauer; Klaus Wälde
  3. Optimal Taxation with Consumption Time as a Leisure or Labor Substitute By Robin Boadway; Firouz Gahvari
  4. Tobacco Taxation in the European Union By Sijbren Cnossen
  5. Income, Energy Taxation, and the Environment: An Econometric Analysis By Ghalwash, Tarek
  6. Corporate Tax Reform and Foreign Direct Investment in Germany – Evidence from Firm-Level Data By Johannes Becker; Clemens Fuest; Thomas Hemmelgarn
  7. The French Tax System: Main Characteristics, Recent Developments and Some Considerations for Reform By Willi Leibfritz; Paul O'Brien
  8. Tagging and Redistributive Taxation By Robin Boadway; Pierre Pestieau
  9. Can Redistributive State Taxes Reduce Inequality? By Andrew Leigh
  10. Slovakia's Introduction of a Flat Tax as Part of Wider Economic Reforms By Anne-Marie Brook; Willi Leibfritz
  11. When Redistribution Leads to Regressive Taxation By Cyril Hariton; Gwenäel Piaser; Gwenaël Piaser
  12. What’s the Monetary Value of Distributive Justice? By Giacomo Corneo; Christina M. Fong
  13. Social Security and Risk Sharing By Piero Gottardi; Felix Kubler

  1. By: Robin Boadway (Queen's University); Laurence Jacquet (Universite Catholique de Louvain)
    Abstract: Using the Mirrlees optimal income tax model with a maxi-min social welfare function, we derive conditions for a decreasing marginal tax rate throughout the skill distribution, a strictly concave tax function in income and a single-peaked average tax schedule. With additive preferences and a constant labor supply elasticity, marginal tax rates are decreasing below the modal skill level, and will also decrease above the mode if aggregate skills are non-decreasing with the skill level. In this case and with a bounded skill distribution or with a constant hazard rate, the tax function is strictly concave in income and the average tax rate single-peaked. When quasilinear utility functions apply in either consumption or leisure, under fairly mild restrictions on the truncated or untruncated distribution function, marginal tax rates are decreasing in skill and the average tax profile is single-peaked. The distribution of skills has the same qualitative influence for either case of quasilinearity. These results continue to hold when there is bunching at the bottom due to a binding non-negativity constraint. We also illustrate how relaxing the assumption of constant elasticity of labor supply, generally used in the literature, modifies the results.
    Keywords: Maxi-min, optimal income taxation
    Date: 2006–05
  2. By: Christian Kleiber; Martin Sexauer; Klaus Wälde
    Abstract: This paper examines the role of bequests and of taxation on bequests for the distribution of wealth. We investigate a model with overlapping generations and heterogeneous households where parents derive utility directly from their bequests. Using the coefficient of variation as the measure of inequality, bequests per se diminish the inequality of wealth since they raise private savings and hence average wealth holdings more than the variance of wealth. From a policy perspective, taxing bequests and redistributing government revenue lump-sum among the young generation further decreases wealth inequality.
    Keywords: bequest, taxation, wealth inequality, OLG model, analytical solution
    JEL: D31 H23
    Date: 2006
  3. By: Robin Boadway (Queen's University); Firouz Gahvari (University of Illinois)
    Abstract: This paper studies the optimal commodity taxation problem when time taken in consumption is a perfect substitute for either labor or leisure. It shows that while labor substitutability affects the optimal tax structure, leisure substitutability leaves the classical optimal tax results intact. In the Ramsey tax framework with linear income taxes, whether the consumers have the same or different earning abilities, labor substitutes tend to be taxed at a higher rate than leisure substitutes with the tax differential being increasing in consumption time. This is not necessarily the case when one allows for nonlinear income taxation.
    Keywords: consumption time, labor substitutes, leisure substitutes, optimal taxation
    JEL: H21 D13 J22
    Date: 2006–01
  4. By: Sijbren Cnossen
    Abstract: Later this year, the European Commission has to submit a report to the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament with its views on tobacco tax policy in the EU. A 2004 publication issued by the Commission expressed the beliefs that tobacco consumption should be controlled by increasing tobacco excises and that harmonization should proceed on the basis of specific rates. This article reviews and evaluates EU tobacco tax policies. It supports the move towards specific taxation, but notes that there are conceptual and empirical limits to excessively high tobacco taxes. Smokers appear to pay their way and cigarette smuggling is a growing menace to health and revenue objectives.
    Keywords: tobacco taxation, European Union
    JEL: H20 H80
    Date: 2006
  5. By: Ghalwash, Tarek (Department of Economics, Umeå University)
    Abstract: This thesis consists of four papers: two of them deal with the relationship between consumption, energy taxation, and emissions on macro level, and two of them focus on the effects of changes in consumption and income on the environmental quality on a micro level. <p> The main objective of paper [I] is to examine how exogenous technological progress, in terms of an increase in energy efficiency, affects consumption choice by Swedish households and thereby emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx). The aim of the paper is closely related to the discussion of what is known as the “rebound effect”. To neutralize the rebound effect, we estimate the necessary change in CO2 tax, i.e. the CO2 tax that keeps CO2 emissions at their initial level. In addition, we estimate how this will affect emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. The results indicate that an increase in energy efficiency of 20 percent will increase emissions of CO2 by approximately 5 percent. To reduce the CO2 emissions to their initial level, CO2 tax must be raised by 130 percent. This tax increase will reduce the emissions of sulphur dioxide to below their initial level, but will leave the emissions of nitrogen oxides at a higher level than initially. <p> One of the premises implied in paper [II] is that the changes in consumer prices, as a result of changes in environmental taxes, may send a different signal to the consumer compared with other changes in consumer prices, such as changes in producer price. In addition, this assumed difference in the signaling effect of the changes in environmental taxes, compared to changes in the producer price, may also differ between different commodities. To achieve the objectives a system of demand functions for Swedish households is estimated. To test for the signaling effect of environmental taxes the consumer price for energy goods is partitioned into a producer price part and a tax part. <p> In Paper [III], we estimate the income elasticity of demand for recreational services and other traditional groups of goods in Sweden and we test for potential changes in such estimates over the twentieth century. The paper uses Swedish household surveys for the years 1913, 1984, 1988, and 1996. Because of the difficulty of directly observing the demand for recreational services, we employ an indirect methodology by using the demand for some outdoor goods as proxies for the recreational services demand. <p> In paper [IV], we investigate the relationship between pollution and income at the household level. Here we want to investigate, and hence contribute to the existing literature, under what conditions concerning individual preferences and the link between consumption and pollution a linear relationship is to be expected, but also to empirically assess the relationship. To achieve our objective we formulate a model determining different type of households’ choice of consumption for goods. Furthermore we link the demand model to emission functions for the various goods. The results from the empirical analysis show that, at least in a close neighborhood of observed income/pollution, we can reject linearity for all three types of pollutions, CO2, SO2, and NOx. According to our results the pollution/income relationships are all strictly concave. Thus the implication is that the income distribution seems to matter in the sense that equalization of income will lead to higher emissions. Furthermore it is shown that the slope as well as the curvature differ between different types of households, which means that preferences differ across households. <p> Keywords: Household consumption, energy demand, emissions, rebound effect, energy taxation, tax elasticities, environmental services, income elasticities, Engel Curves, income distribution.
    Keywords: Household consumption; energy demand; emissions; rebound effect; energy taxation; tax elasticities; environmental services; income elasticities; Engel Curves; income distribution
    JEL: D12 H31 H41 Q26 Q41 Q53 Q56
    Date: 2006–04–10
  6. By: Johannes Becker; Clemens Fuest; Thomas Hemmelgarn
    Abstract: Does the reduction of the effective tax burden on corporations trigger foreign direct investment? We take the German tax reform of 2000 as a natural experiment in order to isolate the impact of corporate taxation on the investment of foreign-held affiliates in Germany. We do so by exploiting the very rich MiDi data base from the Deutsche Bundesbank. Although we deliberately choose an approach which is likely to underestimate the tax effects on investment we find significant evidence that the tax reduction had the intended effect of - ceteris paribus - fostering inward direct investment. We find an elasticity of inward foreign direct investment with respect to the effective marginal tax rate of -0.7. We repeat the analysis for different subgroups and find high degrees of heterogeneity. Our results do not allow to decide whether the model of discrete investment choices or the model of marginal adjustment of the capital stock performs better in explaining the investment data.
    Keywords: corporate taxation, foreign direct investment
    JEL: H21 H25
    Date: 2006
  7. By: Willi Leibfritz; Paul O'Brien
    Abstract: France belongs to the group of OECD countries with relatively high tax levels. In recent years French governments have been increasingly aware that the tax system may have negative effects on growth and employment and some reforms have been introduced to reduce tax distortions. There has, however, been no grand reform design and it is also not clear in which direction it should go. This paper describes the main characteristics and the developments of the French tax system and examines some of its economic distortions and complexities. A future tax reform agenda could focus on the following five elements: First, reduce labour tax distortions by further reductions in social security contributions for low paid workers and reducing the withdrawal rate for in-work benefits, financing these either by increasing the Contribution Sociale Généralisée (CSG) or value added tax. Second, simplify the personal income tax, widening its base to permit lower top rates, and introducing deduction at source. Consider merging it with the CSG if this can be done in an administratively efficient way. Third, reduce capital tax distortions by cutting the corporate tax rate and widening the tax base by reducing the number of special incentives for certain kinds of activity, and also reduce the bias in favour of debt finance. Fourth, increase the role of “green” taxes because of the efficiency gains they offer –- though not as significant sources of revenue. Fifth, improve, and reduce the costs of, tax administration by progressively merging tax administrations where possible. This Working Paper relates to the 2005 OECD Economic Survey of France ( <P>Le système fiscal français La France appartient au groupe des pays de l’OCDE ayant des niveaux d’imposition relativement élevés. Ces dernières années, les autorités françaises ont pris de plus en plus conscience des effets négatifs que le système fiscal peut avoir sur la croissance et l’emploi et des réformes ont été introduites pour réduire les distorsions fiscales. Il n’y a pas eu, toutefois, de grand projet de réforme et on n’appréhende pas encore très bien non plus dans quel sens la réforme devrait aller. La présente étude décrit les caractéristiques et les évolutions du système fiscal français et examine certaines de ses complexités et distorsions économiques. Un programme de réforme fiscale pour l’avenir pourrait être axé sur les cinq objectifs suivants : premièrement, atténuer les distorsions imputables aux prélèvements sur le travail en abaissant encore les cotisations de sécurité sociale pour les bas salaires et en diminuant le taux de réduction en fonction du revenu des prestations subordonnées à l’exercice d’un emploi, ces dernières étant financées par une augmentation de la Contribution sociale généralisée (CSG) ou de la taxe à la valeur ajoutée. Deuxièmement, simplifier l’impôt sur le revenu des personnes physiques, en élargissant sa base de façon à permettre une baisse des taux supérieurs d’imposition et en introduisant le prélèvement à la source. On pourrait envisager de fusionner cet impôt avec la CSG si cela peut être fait de façon administrativement efficiente. Troisièmement, réduire les distorsions imputables à l’impôt sur le capital en baissant le taux d’imposition des sociétés et en élargissant l’assiette fiscale grâce à une diminution du nombre d’incitations spéciales pour certains types d’activité, et également atténuer le parti-pris en faveur du financement par l’emprunt. Quatrièmement, accroître le rôle des impôts écologiques en raison des gains d’efficience qu’ils offrent –même s’il ne s’agit pas d’une source importante de recettes. Cinquièmement, améliorer l’administration de l’impôt, et en réduire les coûts, en fusionnant progressivement les administrations fiscales lorsque c’est possible. Ce Document de travail se rapporte à l'Étude économique de l'OCDE de la France, 2005 (
    Keywords: fiscalité, tax policy, politique fiscale, social security, sécurité sociale, tax administration, administration fiscale
    JEL: E62 H2 H71 J32
    Date: 2005–07–28
  8. By: Robin Boadway (Queen's University); Pierre Pestieau (Universite de Liege)
    Abstract: We study the optimal redistributive tax structure when the population can be disaggregated into tagged groups. We begin with the case in which the tag has no normative significance, but simply separates the population into identifiable groups with different distributions of ability-types. Under reasonable circumstances, the tax system will be more redistributive in the tagged group with the higher proportion of high-ability persons. We then extend the analysis to the case where the tag reflects differences in needs, that is, differences in the resources required to achieve a given level of utility, for example, due to a medical condition or a disability. The amount of compensation given for needs depends on whether the income tax structure is differentiated by needs groups.
    Keywords: optimal income tax, tagging, needs
    JEL: H21 H23
    Date: 2006–05
  9. By: Andrew Leigh
    Abstract: Do income taxes levied at a state or regional level affect the after-tax distribution of income? Or do workers merely move between regions, causing pre-tax wages to adjust? This question is relevant both in across states in the United States, and across countries within the European Union. Using the full income tax parameters for all US states from 1977-2002, I create a “simulated tax redistribution index”, which captures the mechanical impact of the changes in tax policy on the gini coefficient, but is exogenous to any behavioral response. Analyzing the effect of this redistribution index on inequality, I find that gross wages do not adjust so as to fully offset the effect of more redistributive taxes. Exploring the adjustment process further, I create a new class of tax redistribution measures, based on the S-Gini, which differentially weight effects at the bottom and top of the distribution, and conclude that neither taxes that particularly affect the rich or the poor seem to affect the distribution of wages. Redistributive taxes do not appear to affect interstate migration or total state personal income. From a political economy perspective, I also find some evidence that more inequality leads states to implement more redistributive taxes, which may help explain why earlier studies observed a positive relationship between redistribution and inequality.
    Keywords: taxation, redistribution, progressivity, inequality, income distribution, Gini index, S-Gini index, interstate migration
    JEL: H21 H23 H73 D63
    Date: 2005–04
  10. By: Anne-Marie Brook; Willi Leibfritz
    Abstract: Slovakia’s fundamental tax reform of 2004 considerably improved the simplicity and efficiency of the tax system by eliminating exemptions and special regimes and setting the rates for the personal income tax (PIT), the corporate income tax (CIT) and the value added tax (VAT) all equal to 19%. This paper assesses the impact of this reform in the context of Slovakia's wider package of economic reforms. With respect to economic efficiency, the two key conclusions are as follows: First, the reforms are expected to improve both the level and efficiency of capital investment in Slovakia – although further improvements could be made by eliminating the double taxation on projects financed by retained profits. Second, the combination of the tax and social benefit reforms has enhanced the incentives for unemployed workers to seek work, which should result in higher labour supply. Labour demand should also have increased, thanks to the more flexible labour market. However, as overall taxes on labour remain high, labour demand for very low skilled workers may not pick up without further reforms to reduce the cost of employing such workers. With respect to equity considerations the assessment is less clear cut. On the one hand the flat personal income tax has benefited both low income earners and very high earners, particularly those with families, while middle-income earners, particularly single earners appear to be somewhat worse off. The increase in VAT and the welfare reform also have distributive effects. The net result of these reforms has been a significant cut in the real incomes of social beneficiaries who are not working. On the other hand, by raising labour productivity and reducing structural unemployment the reforms have the potential to benefit the low-skilled population also – provided other public policies are in place to facilitate this outcome. This Working Paper relates to the 2005 OECD Economic Survey of the Slovak Republic ( <P>L'impôt à taux unique dans le contexte de réformes économiques slovaques La réforme fiscale radicale mise en place par la Slovaquie en 2004 a fortement accru la simplicité et l’efficience du système fiscal en supprimant les exemptions et les régimes spéciaux et en fixant un taux uniforme de 19 % pour l’impôt sur le revenu des personnes physiques (IRPP), l’impôt sur le revenu des sociétés (IRS) et la taxe sur la valeur ajoutée (TVA). Ce document évalue l’incidence de cette réforme dans le contexte d’une série plus générale de réformes économiques mises en œuvre par la Slovaquie. Du point de vue de l’efficience économique, les deux principales conclusions sont les suivantes : En premier lieu, les réformes vont sans doute augmenter à la fois le niveau et l’efficience de l’investissement en Slovaquie – même si une amélioration reste possible en supprimant la double imposition des investissements financés par les bénéfices non distribués. En second lieu, la réforme fiscale, conjuguée à une réforme du système de prestations sociales, renforce les incitations pour les chômeurs à chercher du travail, ce qui devrait accroître l’offre de main-d’œuvre. La demande de main-d’œuvre doit aussi avoir augmenté, grâce à la plus grande flexibilité du marché du travail. Cependant, l’imposition totale du travail demeurant élevée, la demande pour les travailleurs très peu qualifiés n’augmentera peut-être pas en l’absence de mesures supplémentaires pour réduire le coût de l’embauche de ces travailleurs. En ce qui concerne les considérations relatives à l’équité, l’évaluation est moins tranchée. D’un côté, le taux uniforme de l’impôt sur le revenu des personnes physiques profite à la fois aux catégories à bas revenus et à aux titulaires de revenus très élevés, en particulier ceux qui ont une famille, tandis que les catégories à revenu moyen, en particulier les célibataires, semblent quelque peu défavorisées. L’alourdissement de la TVA et la réforme de la protection sociale ont aussi des effets redistributifs. Au total, ces réformes se traduisent par une diminution sensible des ressources des bénéficiaires de prestations sociales qui ne travaillent pas. D’un autre côté, en rehaussant la productivité du travail et en réduisant le chômage structurel, les réformes vont sans doute bénéficier aussi à la population peu qualifiée – à condition que des mesures complémentaires soient mises en place pour faciliter ce résultat. Ce Document de travail se rapporte à l'Étude économique de l'OCDE de la République slovaque, 2005 (
    Keywords: tax policy, politique fiscale, social security, sécurité sociale, flat tax, labour taxation, capital taxation, impôt uniforme, fiscalité du travail, fiscalité du capital
    JEL: E62 H21 H53 J3
    Date: 2005–10–03
  11. By: Cyril Hariton (Toulouse Business School); Gwenäel Piaser (Department of Economics, University Of Venice Cà Foscari); Gwenaël Piaser
    Abstract: We introduce labor contracts, in a framework of optimal redistribution: firms have some local market power and try to discriminate among heterogeneous workers. In this setting we show that if the firms have perfect information, i.e, they perfectly discriminate against workers and take all the surplus, the best tax function is flat. If the firms have imperfect information, i.e, if they offert incentive contracts, then (under some assumptions) the best redistributive taxation is regressive.
    Keywords: Income Taxation, Redistribution, Labor market, Multi-principals, Adverse selection, Mechanism design
    JEL: D21 D82 H21 L14
    Date: 2006
  12. By: Giacomo Corneo; Christina M. Fong
    Abstract: This paper proposes a model that can be implemented to estimate the willingness to pay for distributive justice. A formula is derived that allows one to recover the willingness to pay for distributive justice from the estimated coefficients of a probit regression and fiscal data. Using this formula and data from a 1998 Gallup Social Audit, we find that the monetary value of justice in the United States is about one fifth of GDP. We find no evidence that the value of justice varies across types of people.
    Keywords: distributive justice, governmental redistribution, fairness
    JEL: D63 H24
    Date: 2006
  13. By: Piero Gottardi; Felix Kubler
    Abstract: In this paper we identify conditions under which the introduction of a pay-as-you-go social security system is ex-ante Pareto-improving in a stochastic overlapping generations economy with capital accumulation and land. We argue that these conditions are consistent with many calibrations of the model used in the literature. In our model financial markets are complete and competitive equilibria are interim Pareto efficient. Therefore, a welfare improvement can only be obtained if agents’ welfare is evaluated ex ante, and arises from the possibility of inducing, through social security, an improved level of intergenerational risk sharing. We will also examine the optimal size of a given social security system as well as its optimal reform. The analysis will be carried out in a relatively simple set-up, where the various effects of social security, on the prices of long-lived assets and the stock of capital, and hence on output, wages and risky rates of returns, can be clearly identified.
    Keywords: intergenerational risk sharing, social security, ex ante welfare improvements, interim optimality, price effects
    JEL: D58 D91 E62 H55
    Date: 2006

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