New Economics Papers
on Public Finance
Issue of 2013‒11‒16
fourteen papers chosen by

  1. A Theory of Top Income Taxation and Social Insurance By Francisco M. Gonzalez; Jean-Francois Wen
  2. Dynamic Optimal Taxation in Open Economies By Till Gross
  3. Capital Tax Competition and Dynamic Optimal Taxation By Till Gross
  4. Capital Taxation, Intermediate Goods, and Production Efficiency By Till Gross
  5. Taxation of Dividend, Interest, and Capital Gain Income By Michelle Harding
  6. Are Closely-Held Firms Tax Shelters? By Annette Alstadsæter; Wojciech Kopczuk; Kjetil Telle
  7. Tax Reform and Environmental Policy: Options for Recycling Revenue from a Tax on Carbon Dioxide By Goulder, Lawrence H.; Hafstead, Marc A.C.
  8. The effect of awareness and incentives on tax evasion By Alstadsæter, Annette; Jacob, Martin
  9. Who participates in tax avoidance? By Alstadsæter, Annette; Jacob, Martin
  10. Pareto-improving tariff-tax reforms under imperfect competition By Kenji Fujiwara
  11. Tax reforms in EU Member States - Tax policy challenges for economic growth and fiscal sustainability – 2013 Report By European Commission
  12. Corporate Taxation and Productivity Catch-Up: Evidence from European Firms By Norman Gemmel; Richard Kneller; Danny McGowan; Ismael Sanz
  13. Fiscal policy and external imbalances in a debt crisis: the Spanish case By Pablo Hernández de Cos; Juan F. Jimeno
  14. Russia’s Fiscal Gap By Eugene Goryunov; Maria Kazakova; Laurence J. Kotlikoff; Arseny Mamedov; Kristina Nesterova; Vladimir Nazarov; Elena Grishina; Pavel Trunin; Alexey Shpenev

  1. By: Francisco M. Gonzalez (Department of Economics, University of Waterloo); Jean-Francois Wen (Department of Economics, University of Calgary)
    Abstract: The development of the welfare state in the Western economies between 1930 and 1990 coincided with a puzzling pattern in the taxation of top incomes. Effective tax rates at the top increased sharply but then gradually decreased, even as social transfers continued rising. We propose a new theory of the development of the welfare state to explain these facts. Our main insight is that social insurance and top income taxation are substitutes for averting social confl?ict. We emphasize the role of the Great Depression as a source of aggregate risk, and argue that the rise of the welfare state can be understood as a process of exploiting efficiency gains in response to gradual technological improvements in the provision of social insurance. Our detailed arguments build on the policy histories of the United States, Great Britain, and Sweden.
    JEL: D30 H20 H50 P16
    Date: 2013–10
  2. By: Till Gross (Department of Economics, Carleton University)
    Abstract: This paper analyzes optimal capital taxation in open economies with strategic interaction in a neo-classical growth model. With a territorial or source-based tax system, I show that optimal capital taxes in steady state are zero for a large open economy, thereby generalizing the result previously established only for the special cases of a closed and a small open economy. If the steady-state assumption is relaxed, optimal capital taxes are still zero when marginal utilities of private and public consumption are bounded, or when the utility function is quasi- linear in consumption. Moreover, in the latter case the solution is also time-consistent. For the residential or world-wide tax principle, however, countries are not able to tax all factors of production, so capital income taxes are generally non-zero except in the limiting cases of a closed or small open economy. Allowing for both residential and territorial taxes restores zero capital taxes.
    Keywords: Dynamic Optimal Taxation, Open Economy, Ramsey Taxation, Capital Taxes
    JEL: H21 E62
    Date: 2013–08–06
  3. By: Till Gross (Department of Economics, Carleton University)
    Abstract: I analyze international tax competition in a framework of dynamic optimal taxation for strategically competing governments. The global capital stock is determined endogenously as in a neo-classical growth model. With perfect commitment and a complete tax system (where all factors of production can be taxed), governments set their capital taxes so that the net return is equal to the social marginal product of capital. Capital accumulation thus follows the modified golden rule. This is independent of relative country size, capital taxes in other countries, and the degree of capital mobility. In contrast, with an exogenous capital stock returns on capital are pure rents and a government's ability to capture them is limited through capital fight, triggering a race to the bottom. With an endogenous capital stock, capital is an intermediate good and taxes on it are not used to raise revenues, but to implement the optimal capital stock. Even in a non-cooperative game it is thus not individually rational for governments to engage in tax competition. I provide a general proof that if the modified golden rule holds in a closed economy, then it also does in an open economy.
    Keywords: Tax Competition, Open Economy, Capital Taxes, Capital Mobility, Ramsey Taxation, Optimal Dynamic Taxation
    JEL: F42 H21 H87 E6
    Date: 2013–10–21
  4. By: Till Gross (Department of Economics, Carleton University)
    Abstract: An important controversy in public finance is whether long-run capital taxes are optimally zero or not, with a broad variety of models supporting each case. This paper examines the question whether capital is special and if so, what the underlying principle could be that explains both types of results. I find that capital is provided without distortions in a wide class of models, i.e. that its marginal product is the same in first and second best. The conditions for this to hold are that the government is able to tax all of capital's co-factors of production separately and that capital does not enter the utility function. When individually rational behavior leads to sub-optimal capital accumulation, then capital taxes are used to implement the optimal allocation. The intuition is that capital is an intermediate good; optimal taxation seeks to tax endowments and intermediate goods do not have any endowment component.
    Date: 2013–10–23
  5. By: Michelle Harding
    Abstract: This paper provides an overview of the differing ways in which capital income is taxed across the OECD. It provides an analytical framework which summarises the statutory tax treatment of dividend income, interest income and capital gains on shares and real property across the OECD, considering where appropriate the interaction of corporate and personal tax systems. It describes the different approaches to the tax treatment of these income types at progressive stages of taxation and concludes the discussion of each income type by summarising the different systems in diagrammatic form. For each income type, the paper presents worked calculations of the maximum combined statutory tax rates in each OECD country, under the tax treatment and rates applying as at 1 July 2012. These treatments and rates may have changed since this date and the paper should not be interpreted as reflecting the current taxation of capital income in OECD countries. Ce document donne un aperçu des diverses formes d’imposition des revenus du capital dans les pays de l’OCDE. Il offre un cadre d’analyse qui résume le traitement fiscal légal des dividendes, des intérêts perçus et des plus-values réalisées sur les actions et sur les biens immobiliers dans les pays de l’OCDE, en tenant compte le cas échéant de l’interaction entre le régime de l’impôt sur les sociétés et celui de l’impôt sur le revenu des personnes physiques. Il décrit les différentes approches du traitement fiscal de ces types de revenu à différents niveaux du barème progressif et conclut l’analyse de chaque type de revenu par des diagrammes qui résument les différents systèmes existants. Pour chaque type de revenu, ce document présente des calculs élaborés des taux maximums d’imposition combinés en vigueur dans chaque pays de l’OCDE, en fonction du régime fiscal et des taux applicables au 1er juillet 2012. Ces régimes et taux ont peut-être été modifiés depuis cette date, de sorte que ce document ne reflète pas nécessairement la situation actuelle de la fiscalité des revenus du capital dans les pays de l’OCDE.
    Date: 2013–11–07
  6. By: Annette Alstadsæter; Wojciech Kopczuk; Kjetil Telle
    Abstract: In 2004 Norwegian authorities announced a reform introducing dividend taxation for personal (but not corporate) owners to take effect starting in 2006. This change provided incentives to maximize dividends in 2004 and 2005, and to retain earnings in the following years. Using Norwegian registry data that cover the universe of non-publicly traded firms, we find that dividend payments responded very strongly to the anticipated reform, but also that much of the response was compensated by re-injecting shareholder equity in the same firms. On the other hand, following the reform firms began to retain earnings. While all categories of assets grow, the increase in durable assets categories that include equipment, machinery, company cars, planes and boats, is particularly striking. We find that personally owned firms and those that pursued aggressive dividend maximization policy in anticipation of the reform exhibit lower profits and economic activity in its aftermath, but retain earnings and accumulated assets at comparable or faster rate than others. The differential effect on assets is concentrated in financial (a potential substitute for private saving) and durable (a potential substitute for private consumption) asset categories.We interpret these results as indicating both the existence of real tax responses and supportive of the notion that in the presence of dividend taxation closely-held firms partially serve as tax shelters.
    JEL: D22 G3 H2 H3
    Date: 2013–11
  7. By: Goulder, Lawrence H.; Hafstead, Marc A.C. (Resources for the Future)
    Abstract: Carbon taxes are a potential revenue source that could play a key role in major tax reform. This paper employs a numerical general equilibrium model of the United States to evaluate alternative tax reductions that could be financed by the revenues from a carbon tax. We consider a carbon tax that begins at $10 per ton in 2013 and increases at 5 percent per year to the year 2040. The net revenue from the tax is substantial, and the GDP and welfare impacts of the tax depend significantly on how this revenue is recycled to the private sector. Under our central case simulations (which do not account for beneficial environmental impacts) over the period 2013–2040, the tax reduces GDP by .56 percent when revenues are returned through lump-sum rebates to households, as compared with .33 and .24 percent when the revenues are recycled through reductions in personal and corporate tax rates, respectively. Introducing tradable exemptions to the carbon tax reduces or eliminates the negative impacts on the profits of the most vulnerable carbon-supplying or carbon-using industries. The GDP and welfare impacts are somewhat larger when such exemptions are introduced.
    Keywords: carbon tax, tax reform, climate
    JEL: Q50 Q58 H23
    Date: 2013–10–08
  8. By: Alstadsæter, Annette; Jacob, Martin
    Abstract: We observe a specific type of tax evasion among business owners in Swedish administrative panel data, after the tax authority has approved all tax returns. For the period 2006-2009, approximately 5% of tax returns overstate a claimed dividend allowance. Tax awareness decreases and complexity increases the likelihood of misreporting. Some observed misreporting could be accidental, while some misreporting is deliberate tax evasion. We identify a positive and significant effect of tax rates on tax evasion, by exploiting a large kink in the tax schedule. The majority of misreporting cases remains undetected. Self-correction is the dominant type of detection. --
    Keywords: tax evasion,tax compliance,tax enforcement,tax awareness,detection
    JEL: H26 H24 D14
    Date: 2013
  9. By: Alstadsæter, Annette; Jacob, Martin
    Abstract: This paper analyzes the sources of heterogeneity in legal tax avoidance strategies across individuals. Three conditions are required for a taxpayer to participate in tax avoidance: incentive, access, and awareness. Using rich Swedish administrative panel data with a unique link between corporate and individual tax returns, we analyze individual participation in legal tax planning around the 2006 Swedish tax reform. Our results suggest that closely held corporations are utilized to facilitate income shifting across tax bases to reduce the individual's overall tax burden. We find that both tax incentives and awareness of tax incentives impact the decision to access income-shifting opportunities. Our results show that factors explaining participation in legal tax avoidance substantially differ from those explaining participation in illegal tax evasion. --
    Keywords: Tax avoidance,Income shifting,Income taxation,Dividend taxation
    Date: 2013
  10. By: Kenji Fujiwara (School of Economics, Kwansei Gakuin University)
    Abstract: Constructing a duopoly model with non-constant marginal costs and a strict Pareto criterion, this paper examines welfare effects of world-price-fixing tariff reductions accompanied by adjustments of a domestic tax. If a destination-based consumption tax is used, this reform achieves a strict Pareto improvement under sufficiently decreasing marginal costs. If, in contrast, an origin-based production tax is employed, a strict Pareto improvement holds whether marginal cost is decreasing or not. Thus, we can conclude that tariff-tax reforms that improve the world welfare and are irrelevant of tax bases are possible if the targeted industry exhibits sufficiently decreasing marginal costs.
    Keywords: tariff-tax reform, destination principle, origin principle, strict Pareto improvement/deterioration, duopoly
    JEL: F12 F13 H2
    Date: 2013–10
  11. By: European Commission (European Commission)
    Abstract: The 2013 edition of the report ‘Tax reforms in EU Member States’ contributes to the tax policy debate in the EU. Compared to previous editions, the report has been streamlined with a stronger focus on the Member State level. The report consists of two parts: (i) an extensive overview of recent tax reforms, and (ii) a discussion of selected tax policy challenges relevant for improving Member States’ tax systems in two analytical chapters. The chapter on recent tax reforms identifies common trends across countries and offers a typology of reforms consistent with the main messages of the European Semester. The first analytical chapter focuses on two wide ranging challenges that EU Member States are facing in the area of tax policy in times of slow growth and high fiscal consolidation needs: the potential contribution of taxation to consolidate public finances – in addition to expenditure control – and the growth-friendliness of the tax structure. Beside updating and refining last year's horizontal screening, various checks have been carried out to see how robust the results are. The second analytical chapter deals with economic challenges that EU Member States are facing with respect to the design of individual taxes and tax compliance. It deepens the analysis of tax expenditure with particular insights on personal income taxation and examines the debt bias in corporate taxation, notably its effects on banks’ capital structures. Applying an indicator-based approach, the report then provides an update of the analysis carried out in previous years on broadening the VAT base, on housing taxation, on environmental taxation and on improving tax governance. Finally, the chapter analyses the influence of taxation on income inequality.
    Keywords: European Union, Taxation, European Semester, VAT, Coporpotate income tax, tax administration, tax reform
    JEL: H21 H22 H23 H25 H27 H62
    Date: 2013–10
  12. By: Norman Gemmel (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand); Richard Kneller (University of Nottingham, UK); Danny McGowan (Bangor University, UK); Ismael Sanz (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Spain)
    Abstract: Firms that lay far behind the technological frontier have the most to gain from imitating the technology or management practices of others. That some firms converge relatively slowly to the productivity frontier suggests the existence of factors that cause them to under-invest in their productivity. In this paper we explore whether higher rates of corporate taxation affect firm productivity convergence because they reduce the after tax returns to productivity enhancing investments for small firms. Using data for 11 European countries we find evidence for such an effect; productivity growth in small firms is slower the higher are high corporate tax rates. Our results are robust to the use of instrumental variable and panel data techniques with quantitatively similar effects found from a natural experiment following the German tax reforms in 2001.
    Keywords: Productivity, taxation, convergence
    JEL: D24 H25 L11 O31
    Date: 2013–03
  13. By: Pablo Hernández de Cos (Banco de España); Juan F. Jimeno (Banco de España)
    Abstract: In this paper we reflect on the role that fiscal policy could play in the resolution of the crisis in Eurozone countries crippled by both public and private debt, and beset by growth and competitiveness problems. As an illustration, we revisit the Spanish case, a paradigmatic example of the economic difficulties created by high debt and internal and external imbalances. After describing the build-up of fiscal and macroeconomic imbalances in Spain during the period 1995-2007, we first discuss how the correction of macroeconomic imbalances conditions progress on the fiscal consolidation front and, secondly, how fiscal consolidation affects the correction of imbalances. We conclude that the role that national fiscal policies can play in these countries to expand demand and reduce the costs of solving external and internal imbalances seems limited. Also, overall, the best contribution that fiscal policy can achieve under these constraints is through a better targeting of government expenditures and tax reforms, aimed at introducing permanent measures to stabilise debt ratios. These could then be combined with productivity-enhancing structural reforms and with improvements in product market regulation to increase competition, so that the short-term costs of the internal devaluation required are reduced
    Keywords: macro imbalances, fiscal policy, euro crisis
    JEL: E62 H30 J11
    Date: 2013–11
  14. By: Eugene Goryunov; Maria Kazakova; Laurence J. Kotlikoff; Arseny Mamedov; Kristina Nesterova; Vladimir Nazarov; Elena Grishina; Pavel Trunin; Alexey Shpenev
    Abstract: Every country faces what economists call an intertemporal (across time) budget constraint, which requires that its government’s future expenditures, including the servicing of its outstanding official debt, be covered by its government’s future receipts when measured in present value. The difference between the present value of a country’s future expenditures and its future receipts is called its fiscal gap. This study estimates Russia’s 2013 fiscal gap at 890 trillion rubles or $28 trillion. This longterm budget shortfall is 8.4 percent of the present value of projected GDP. Consequently, eliminating Russia’s fiscal gap on a smooth basis requires fiscal tightening by 8.4 percent of each future year’s projected GDP. One means of doing this is to immediately and permanently raise all Russian taxes by 29 percent. Another is to immediately and permanently cut all spending, apart from servicing outstanding debt, by 22.4 percent. How can a country with vast energy resources and foreign reserves and other financial assets that exceed its official debt still have very major fiscal problems? The answer is that the Russia’s energy resources are finite, whereas its expenditure needs are not. Moreover, Russia is aging and facing massive obligations from its pension system and other age related expenditures.
    JEL: H2 H5 H6
    Date: 2013–11

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