nep-pub New Economics Papers
on Public Finance
Issue of 2007‒06‒23
three papers chosen by
Kwang Soo Cheong
Johns Hopkins University

  1. The Value Added Tax: Its Causes and Consequences By Michael Keen; Ben Lockwood
  2. Optimal Capital Income Taxation with Heterogeneous Firms By Rodrigo Cerda; Diego Saravia
  3. Toward a More Efficient Taxation System in New Zealand By Annabelle Mourougane

  1. By: Michael Keen; Ben Lockwood
    Abstract: Almost unknown in 1960, the value added tax (VAT) is now found in more than 130 countries, raises around 20 percent of the world’s tax revenue, and has been the centerpiece of tax reform in many developing countries. This paper explores the causes and consequences of the remarkable rise of the VAT. A key question is whether it has indeed proved, as its proponents claim, an especially effective form of taxation. To address this, it is first shown that a tax innovation—such as the introduction of a VAT—reduces the marginal cost of public funds if and only if it also leads an optimizing government to increase the tax ratio. This observation leads to the estimation, on a panel of 143 countries for 25 years, of a system of equations describing both the probability of VAT adoption and the revenue impact of the VAT. The results point to a rich set of determinants of VAT adoption, this being more likely, for example, if a country has a program with the IMF and the less open it is to international trade. In the revenue equation, the presence of a VAT does indeed have a significant impact, but also a complex one, with a negative intercept effect counteracted by positive effects that are greater the higher are per capita income and, more tentatively, openness. While the sign of the revenue impact of the VAT is thus in general ambiguous, most countries that have adopted a VAT seem to have gained a more effective tax instrument in doing so (though this is less apparent in sub-Saharan Africa), and most without it seem likely to gain from its adoption.
    Keywords: Value added tax; tax reform
    JEL: H20 H21
    Date: 2007
  2. By: Rodrigo Cerda (Instituto de Economía. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.); Diego Saravia (Instituto de Economía. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.)
    Abstract: We study capital income taxation in a context where firms differ in productivity and, they decide whether to produce or not after comparing after-tax profits vis-`a-vis an outside alternative option. In our setup, the government taxes capital income, firms’ profits and labor income but does not tax the alternative outside option. In this context, taxation distorts the firms’ decisions to participate in production (extensive margin) as well as the investment decisions once they decide to produce (intensive margin). The key feature for the capital income tax being different from zero is the distortion in the extensive margin. When all firms choose to produce there is no such distortion and not taxing capital income is optimal. However, when some firms choose not to produce the optimal income tax rate is different from zero. The magnitude and sign of this tax depends on the sensibility of capital and labor demand to a change in the interest rate.
    Date: 2007
  3. By: Annabelle Mourougane
    Abstract: After the radical reforms undertaken in the 1980s, the NZ tax system has long been regarded as one of most efficient within the OECD, and is based on a comprehensive income approach. Looking forward, the country will require a tax regime that helps the economy to continue raising living standards, supports savings and investment and copes with emerging pressures such as increasing geographic mobility of labour and capital. In this context, it will be important to have in place a clear long-term direction for the tax system to guide reforms. There are at least two broad options that are worth considering: adapting the system within a comprehensive income approach or adopting a dual income tax system. Future changes to the tax system need to be consistent with the approach ultimately adopted. In any case, a number of limitations of current tax bases will need to be tackled. This Working Paper relates to the 2007 OECD Economic Survey of New Zealand ( <P>Vers un système fiscal plus efficace en Nouvelle-Zélande <BR>Après les réformes radicales entreprises au cours des années 80, le système fiscal néo-zélandais est considéré depuis longtemps comme l’un des plus efficients de la zone OCDE. A l’avenir, le pays aura besoin d’un régime fiscal qui aide l’économie à élever le niveau de vie, soit favorable à l’épargne et à l’investissement et puisse faire face à des pressions émergentes telles que la mobilité géographique croissante du travail et du capital. Dans un tel contexte, il sera important d’avoir en place une direction claire sur le long terme pour guider les réformes du système fiscal. Au moins deux options méritent considération : adapter le système dans le cadre d’une approche de revenu global ou bien adopter un système de taxation dual. Les changements futurs du système fiscal devront être cohérents avec l’approche finalement adoptée. Dans tous les cas, il sera nécessaire de modifier un nombre de limitations des bases de taxation actuelles. Ce Document de travail se rapporte à l'Étude économique de l'OCDE de la Nouvelle-Zélande 2007 (
    Keywords: taxation, fiscalité, New Zealand, expenditure tax, Nouvelle-Zélande, comprehensive income approach, approche de revenu global, dual income system, système de taxe dual, taxe à la consommation
    JEL: E62 H2
    Date: 2007–06–11

This nep-pub issue is ©2007 by Kwang Soo Cheong. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.