nep-pub New Economics Papers
on Public Finance
Issue of 2009‒08‒08
five papers chosen by
Kwang Soo Cheong
Johns Hopkins University

  1. Designing Optimal Taxes with a Microeconometric Model of Household Labour Supply By Rolf Aaberge; Ugo Colombino
  2. Tax Reform, Targeting and the Tax Burden on Women By Patricia Apps
  3. Corporate Tax Competition between Firms By Simon Loretz; Padraig J. Moore
  4. Dynamic Tax Competition under Asymmetric Productivity of Public Capital By Tanaka, H.; Hidaka, M.
  5. Valuing Public Goods Using Happiness Data: The Case of Air Quality By Arik Levinson

  1. By: Rolf Aaberge; Ugo Colombino
    Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to present an exercise where we identify optimal income tax rules according to various social welfare criteria, keeping fixed the total net tax revenue. Empirical applications of optimal taxation theory have typically adopted analytical expressions for the optimal taxes and then imputed numerical values to their parameters by using “calibration” procedures or previous econometric estimates. Besides the restrictiveness of the assumptions needed to obtain analytical solutions to the optimal taxation problem, a shortcoming of that procedure is the possible inconsistency between the theoretical assumptions and the assumptions implicit in the empirical evidence. In this paper we follow a different procedure, based on a computational approach to the optimal taxation problem. To this end, we estimate a microeconomic model with 78 parameters that capture heterogeneity in consumption-leisure preferences for singles and couples as well as in job opportunities across individuals based on detailed Norwegian household data for 1994. For any given tax rule, the estimated model can be used to simulate the labour supply choices made by single individuals and couples. Those choices are therefore generated by preferences and opportunities that vary across the decision units. We then identify optimal tax rules – within a class of 9-parameter piece-wise linear rules - by iteratively running the model until a given social welfare function attains its maximum under the constraint of keeping constant the total net tax revenue. The parameters to be determined are an exemption level, four marginal tax rates, three “kink points” and a lump sum transfer that can be positive (benefit) or negative (tax). We explore a variety of social welfare functions with differing degree of inequality aversion. All the social welfare functions imply monotonically increasing marginal tax rates. When compared with the current (1994) tax systems, the optimal rules imply a lower average tax rate. Moreover, all the optimal rules imply – with respect to the current rule – lower marginal rates on low and/or average income levels and higher marginal rates on relatively high income levels. These results are partially at odds with the tax reforms that took place in many countries during the last decades. While those reforms embodied the idea of lowering average tax rates, the way to implement it has typically consisted in reducing the top marginal rates. Our results instead suggest to lower average tax rates by reducing marginal rates on low and average income levels and increasing marginal rates on very high income levels.
    Keywords: Labour supply, optimal taxation, random utility model, microsimulation.
    JEL: H21 H31 J22
    Date: 2008–06
  2. By: Patricia Apps
    Abstract: In the early 1980’s Australia had a highly progressive, individual based income tax and families received support for dependent children in the form of universal family allowances. The introduction of income tests for child support payments based on family income (now in the form of Family Tax Benefit Part A), together with changes in the rate scale applying to personal income, have had the effect of replacing Australia’s progressive individual based income tax with a system that tends towards one of joint taxation under a rate scale that exhibits an inverted U-shaped profile – the highest marginal rates apply to average incomes, and to the incomes of the second earner in the family. This paper shows how the introduction of this new income tax system has shifted the overall burden of taxation towards families with two-earners on low and average wages and to working married mothers in particular as second earners. The paper proposes a return to a progressive individual based income tax and universal family payments for dependent children, for reasons of both fairness and efficiency, and argues for the elimination of policy instruments that create complexity and serve only to reduce the transparency of tax reform.
    Keywords: Income taxation, Family benefits, Time allocation, Labour supply, Household production, Discrimination
    JEL: D91 H24 H31 I38 J16 J22
    Date: 2009–05
  3. By: Simon Loretz (Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation); Padraig J. Moore (Deutsche Bank London)
    Abstract: Firms' tax planning decisions, similar to their other operational decisions, are made in a competitive environment. Various stakeholders observe the tax payments and evaluate these against the relevant peer group, which creates interdependencies in the tax planning activities of firms. Introducing the concept of reputational loss we show the positive interdependence in a theoretical model and test it in a spatial econometric model. Empirical evidence suggests that benchmarking takes place both within countries and within industries, however for the latter it is important to include firms in large non-EU OECD countries. Further, the analysis shows that spatial interdependence is stronger for the largest firms and if they have an average effective tax rate above the statutory tax rate.
    Keywords: Corporate Taxation; Benchmarking; Tax Competition; Spatial Econometrics
    JEL: H25 M40
    Date: 2009
  4. By: Tanaka, H.; Hidaka, M.
    Abstract: We here expand the static tax competition models in symmetric small regions, which were indicated by Zodrow and Mieszkowski (1986) and Wilson (1986), to a dynamic tax competition model in large regions, taking consideration of the regional asymmetry of productivity of public capital and the existence of capital accumulation. The aim of this paper is to verify how the taxation policy affects asymmetric equilibrium based on a simulation analysis using an overlapping generations model in two regions. It is assumed that the public capital as a public input is formed on the basis of the capital tax of local governments and the lump-sum tax of the central government. As demonstrated in related literature, the optimal capital tax rate should become zero when the lump-sum tax is imposed only on older generations, however, the optimal tax rate may become positive when it is imposed proportionally on younger and older generations. In the asymmetric equilibrium, several cooperative solutions can possibly exist which can achieve a higher welfare standard than the actualized cooperative solution either in Region1 or 2..
    Keywords: Tax competition, Capital taxation, Capital accumulation, Public inputs, Infrastructure
    JEL: H21 H42 H71 H77 R13 R53
    Date: 2009–07–30
  5. By: Arik Levinson (Department of Economics, Georgetown University)
    Abstract: This paper describes and implements a method for estimating the average marginal value of a time-varying local public good: air quality. It uses the General Social Survey (GSS), which asks thousands of people in various U.S. locations how happy they are, along with other demographic and attitude questions. These data are matched with the Environmental Protection Agency's Air Quality System (AQS) to find the level of pollution in those locations on the dates the survey questions were asked. People with higher incomes in any given year and location report higher levels of happiness, and people interviewed on days when air pollution was worse than the local seasonal average report lower levels of happiness. Combining these two concepts, I derive the average marginal rate of substitution between income and air quality – a compensating variation for air pollution. Classification-JEL Codes: Q51, Q53, H41
    Keywords: willingness to pay, stated well-being, pollution, compensating variation
    Date: 2009–07–09

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