nep-pub New Economics Papers
on Public Finance
Issue of 2014‒12‒24
twenty papers chosen by
Kwang Soo Cheong
Johns Hopkins University

  1. Mobility and Progressive Taxation By Marcus Roller; Kurt Schmidheiny
  2. The Big Tax Increase Nobody Noticed By Dean Baker
  3. Revisiting the Classical View of Benefit-Based Taxation By Matthew Weinzierl
  4. How Does Tax Progressivity and Household Heterogeneity Affect Laffer Curves? By Hans A. Holter; Dirk Krueger; Serhiy Stepanchuk
  5. Inefficiency in fiscal policy: A political economy of the Laffer curve By Yutaro Hatta
  6. Heterogeneity and Government Revenues: Higher Taxes at the Top? By Guner, Nezih; Lopez-Daneri, Martin; Ventura, Gustavo
  7. Positional Preferences, Endogenous Growth, and Optimal Income- and Consumption Taxation By Ghosh, Sugata; Wendner, Ronald
  8. The use of tax expenditures in times of fiscal consolidation By Lovise Bauger
  9. Optimal asymmetric taxation in a two-sector model with population ageing By Igor Fedotenkov
  10. Work and tax evasion incentive effects of social insurance programs. Evidence from an employment-based benefit extension By Marcelo Bérgolo; Guillermo Cruces
  11. A note on equilibrium leadership in tax competition models By HINDRIKS, Jean; nishimura, YUKIHIRO; ,
  12. Ideals should not be too ideal: Identity and public good contribution By Fuhai HONG
  13. Wealth Inequality in the United States since 1913: Evidence from Capitalized Income Tax Data By Saez, Emmanuel; Zucman, Gabriel
  14. New Tax and Expenditure Elasticity Estimates for EU Budget Surveillance By Robert W.R. Price; Thai-Thanh Dang; Yvan Guillemette
  15. European fiscal solidarity: An EU-wide optimal income tax approach By Seelkopf, Laura; Yang, Hongyan
  16. The role of capital income for top incomes shares in Germany By Bartels, Charlotte; Jenderny, Katharina
  17. Do municipal mergers reduce costs? Evidence from a German federal state By Blesse, Sebastian; Baskaran, Thushyanthan
  18. Simulating the Dynamic Effects of Corporate Income Tax Cut in Finland By Valkonen, Tarmo; Kauppi, Eija; Suni, Paavo
  19. Income taxation and equity: new dominance criteria and an application to Romania By Paolo Brunori; Flaviana Palmisano; Vito Peragine
  20. Taxation, redistribution and the social contract in Brazil By Marcus André Melo; Armando Barrientos; André Canuto Coelho

  1. By: Marcus Roller; Kurt Schmidheiny
    Abstract: In fiscally centralised countries with a unique country-wide income tax schedule, it is straightforward to quantify the degree of progressivity. In fiscally decentralised countries with varying local tax schedules, however, this is not the case. In these countries, the effective tax progressivity depends on the distribution of taxpayers across local jurisdiction as well as on local income distributions. The latter might differ systematically because high income households can partly or fully avoid high tax rates by sorting into low tax locations. This paper develops an empirical approach in order to quantify the effective tax progressivity in a fiscally highly decentralised country - Switzerland - taking the relative size of jurisdictions and the actually observed income sorting into account. Exploiting data on the universe of Swiss taxpayers, we find that rich households face significantly lower tax rates and lower progressivity than in the benchmark case that does not take the income sorting into account. The results are stronger for singles than for families indicating that singles are more sensitive to tax differentials than families. Furthermore, we find suggestive evidence that due to this income sorting the Swiss income tax system is not only less progressive but even regressive for single households with very high incomes.
    Keywords: Progressive Taxation; Fiscal Decentralisation; Income Segregation;
    JEL: H71 H73 R23
    Date: 2014–11
  2. By: Dean Baker
    Abstract: In January of 2013 nearly every worker in the country saw their payroll tax increase by 2.0 percentage points. The payroll tax holiday that had been put in place at the start of 2011 ended in December of 2012, leading to a jump in the Social Security tax from 10.4 percent to 12.4 percent of earnings up to the taxable limit. This was an extraordinarily large increase in the payroll tax. Past increases had generally been phased in gradually. For example, from 1980 to 1990 the tax rate was increased by a total of 2.24 percentage points; however in no year did the rate rise by more than 0.72 percentage points, just over one-third of the 2013 increase.3 If the public was strongly opposed to any tax increases, it would be expected that one as large as the 2013 rise in the Social Security tax would lead to considerable anger, especially given the weakness of the labor market which was still very much feeling the impact of the 2008-2009 recession at that point.
    Keywords: social security, payroll tax
    JEL: H H5 H55 H2 H3
    Date: 2014–09
  3. By: Matthew Weinzierl
    Abstract: This paper explores how the persistently popular "classical" logic of benefit-based taxation, in which an individual's benefit from public goods is tied to his or her income-earning ability, can be incorporated into modern optimal tax theory. If Lindahl's methods are applied to that view of benefits, first-best optimal policy can be characterized analytically as depending on a few potentially estimable statistics, in particular the coefficient of complementarity between public goods and innate talent. Constrained optimal policy with a Pareto-efficient objective that strikes a balance–controlled by a single parameter–between this principle and the familiar utilitarian criterion can be simulated using conventional constraints and methods. A wide range of optimal policy outcomes can result, including those that match well several features of existing policies. To the extent that such an objective reflects the mixed normative reasoning behind prevailing policies, this model may offer a useful approach to a positive optimal tax theory.
    JEL: D63 H21 H41
    Date: 2014–12
  4. By: Hans A. Holter (Department of Economics, University of Oslo); Dirk Krueger (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania); Serhiy Stepanchuk (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland)
    Abstract: How much additional tax revenue can the government generate by increasing labor income taxes? In this paper we provide a quantitative answer to this question, and study the importance of the progressivity of the tax schedule for the ability of the government to generate tax revenues. We develop a rich overlapping generations model featuring an explicit family structure, extensive and intensive margins of labor supply, endogenous accumulation of labor market experience as well as standard intertemporal consumption-savings choices in the presence of uninsurable idiosyncratic labor productivity risk. We calibrate the model to US macro, micro and tax data and characterize the labor income tax Laffer curve under the current choice of the progressivity of the labor income tax code as well as when varying progressivity. We find that more progressive labor income taxes significantly reduce tax revenues. For the US, converting to a flat tax code raises the peak of the Laffer curve by 6%, whereas converting to a tax system with progressivity similar to Denmark, would lower the peak by 7%. We also show that, relative to a representative agent economy tax revenues are less sensitive to the progressivity of the tax code in our economy. This finding is due to the fact that labor supply of two earner households is less elastic (along the intensive margin) and the endogenous accumulation of labor market experience makes labor supply of females less elastic (around the extensive margin) to changes in tax progressivity.
    Keywords: Progressive Taxation, Fiscal Policy, Laffer Curve, Government Debt
    JEL: E62 H20 H60
    Date: 2014–03–01
  5. By: Yutaro Hatta (Graduate School of Economics, Osaka University)
    Abstract: This paper studies investment decisions by economic agents in cases where the tax rate is decided through voting. It will be shown that, in some cases, only a Pareto-dominated tax policy on the wrong side of the Laffer curve is supported under rational expectations. Thus, the governments may collect revenue in an inefficient way. To that end, a quite plausible assumption, the endogeneity of the return on investment, is essential. Therefore this paper warns about the danger of inefficiency in a wide variety of policies. Further, the model predicts that when the inequality in an economy is low, the tax policy on the wrong side is likely to arise.
    Keywords: Political economy; The Laffer curve; Inefficiency in fiscal policies
    JEL: E22 E62 H21
    Date: 2014–12
  6. By: Guner, Nezih; Lopez-Daneri, Martin; Ventura, Gustavo
    Abstract: We evaluate the effectiveness of a more progressive tax scheme in raising government revenues. We develop a life-cycle economy with heterogeneity and endogenous labor supply. Households face a progressive income tax schedule, mimicking the Federal Income tax, and flat-rate taxes that capture payroll, state and local taxes and the corporate income tax. We parameterize this model to reproduce aggregate and cross-sectional observations for the U.S. economy, including the shares of labor income for top earners. We find that a tilt of the Federal income tax schedule towards high earners leads to small increases in revenues which are maximized at an effective marginal tax rate of about 36.9% for the richest 5% of households -- in contrast to a 21.7% marginal rate in the benchmark economy. Maximized revenue from Federal income taxes is only 8.4% higher than it is in the benchmark economy, while revenues from all sources increase only by about 1.6%. The room for higher revenues from more progressive taxes is even lower when average taxes are higher to start with. We conclude that these policy recommendations are misguided if the aim is to exclusively raise government revenue.
    Keywords: labor supply; progressivity; taxation
    JEL: E6 H2
    Date: 2014–07
  7. By: Ghosh, Sugata; Wendner, Ronald
    Abstract: This paper analyzes the impact of positional preferences, exhibiting conspicuous consumption and conspicuous wealth, on optimal consumption- and income taxes, for an endogenous growth model with public capital. Positional preferences raise the endogenous growth rate if the elasticity of intertemporal substitution is larger than one. Even if labor supply is exogenous, the consumption externalities introduce distortions so long as preferences are wealth-dependent, and with or without the presence of conspicuous wealth. Consequently, optimal consumption- and income taxes differ from zero. Numerical simulations present the effects of fiscal policy on the balanced growth path and transitional dynamics.
    Keywords: Conspicuous consumption, conspicuous wealth, endogenous growth, public capital, optimal consumption tax
    JEL: D62 D91 E21 H21 O41
    Date: 2014–11–24
  8. By: Lovise Bauger
    Abstract: Against the background of recovering growth and remaining fiscal consolidation needs, reforming tax expenditures may offer a promising avenue to raise revenue and, at the same time, improve efficiency of the tax systems. The workshop, held by DG ECFIN on 23 October 2013, addressed the economic and budgetary aspects of tax expenditures, including reporting practices, and discussed the rationale for business tax incentives and the distributional effects of tax reliefs in personal income taxation. The workshop was organised in two sessions: "Tax expenditures: measurement and macroeconomic implications" and "Tax expenditures in direct taxation". The proceedings gather together the views on these various dimensions of tax expenditures expressed by academics, national policy-makers and international institutions during the workshop.
    JEL: E62 H23 H24 H25
    Date: 2014–07
  9. By: Igor Fedotenkov (Bank of Lithuania)
    Abstract: This paper presents a simple condition for optimal asymmetric labour (capital) taxation/subsidization in a two-sector model with logarithmic utilities and Cobb-Douglas production functions, linked to demographic factors: fertility rate and longevity. The paper shows that depending on parameter values, it may be optimal to tax or subsidize labour in the sectors. If it is optimal to tax the investment-goods sector, a Pareto-improving tax reform is possible. Larger output elasticities of capital in the sectors reduce the possibilities of a Pareto-improving reform, while population ageing in terms of higher longevity enhances the possibilities of welfare improvement for all generations. Fertility rates do not affect optimal taxation.
    Keywords: Two sectors, factor mobility, asymmetric taxation, optimality
    JEL: E62 H21 J10
    Date: 2014–10–21
  10. By: Marcelo Bérgolo (Universidad de la República (Uruguay). Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y de Administración. Instituto de Economía); Guillermo Cruces (CEDLAS-UNLP)
    Abstract: This article studies how social insurance programs shape individual’s incentives to take up registered employment and to report earnings to the tax authorities. The analysis is based on a social insurance reform in Uruguay that extended healthcare coverage to the dependent children of registered private/sector workers. The identification strategy relies on a comparison between individuals with and without dependent children before and after the reform. The reform increased benefit-eligible registered employment by 1.6 percentage points (about 5 percent above the prereform level), mainly due to an increase in labor force participation rather than to movement from unregistered to registered employment. The shift was greater for parents with younger children and for cohabiting adults whose partners’ jobs did not provide the couples’ children with access to the benefit. Finally, the reform increased the incidence of underreporting of salaried earnings by about 4 percentage points (25 percent higher than the pre-reform level), mostly for workers employed at small firms. The increase in fiscal revenue from higher levels of registered employment was several orders of magnitude greater than the loss of revenue due to an increase in underreporting.
    Keywords: labor supply, work incentives, social insurance, tax evasion
    JEL: J22 H26 O17
    Date: 2014–12
  11. By: HINDRIKS, Jean (Université catholique de Louvain, CORE, Belgium); nishimura, YUKIHIRO (Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics, Japan); ,
    Abstract: This paper reexamines the work of Kempf and Rota-Graziosi (J. Pub. Econ. 94: 768-776, 2010), which shows that leadership by the small region is the risk dominant equilibrium under the endogenous timing game. They obtain this result in a model where the asymmetry among countries translates into different gradients of the demand for capital but identical vertical intercept. In this note, we simply reverse the form of asymmetry by considering different vertical intercepts but identical gradient. The reason is that market power is typically related to the intercept and not to the slope of the demand function. We then show that the large region tax leadership becomes the risk dominant equilibrium and can even become Pareto superior.
    Keywords: endogenous timing, tax competition, reaction function
    JEL: H30 H87 C72
    Date: 2014–08–19
  12. By: Fuhai HONG (Division of Economics, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological Univer- sity. Address: 14 Nanyang Drive, Singapore, 637332.)
    Abstract: This paper incorporates identity into a model of voluntary public good contribution. An ideal of contributing to public goods divides players to di¤erent social categories: Players who identify with the ideal become insiders, obtaining identity utility but incurring disu- tility if their contributions depart from the ideal, while players who do not identify with the ideal remain as outsiders. We show that identity could increase public good contribution; the ideal that best resolves the free-riding problem in the public good game equals either the contribution level of the most altruistic player in the absence of the identity, or a level that makes the least altruistic player indi¤erent between becoming an insider and not, depending on the size of the group. These results have implications for social policymaking.
    Keywords: Ideals, Identity, Public Goods, Social Categories
    JEL: D03 H41
    Date: 2014–11
  13. By: Saez, Emmanuel; Zucman, Gabriel
    Abstract: This paper combines income tax returns with Flow of Funds data to estimate the distribution of household wealth in the United States since 1913. We estimate wealth by capitalizing the incomes reported by individual taxpayers, accounting for assets that do not generate taxable income. We successfully test our capitalization method in three micro datasets where we can observe both income and wealth: the Survey of Consumer Finance, linked estate and income tax returns, and foundations' tax records. Wealth concentration has followed a U-shaped evolution over the last 100 years: It was high in the beginning of the twentieth century, fell from 1929 to 1978, and has continuously increased since then. The rise of wealth inequality is almost entirely due to the rise of the top 0.1% wealth share, from 7% in 1979 to 22% in 2012---a level almost as high as in 1929. The bottom 90% wealth share first increased up to the mid-1980s and then steadily declined. The increase in wealth concentration is due to the surge of top incomes combined with an increase in saving rate inequality. Top wealth-holders are younger today than in the 1960s and earn a higher fraction of total labor income in the economy. We explain how our findings can be reconciled with Survey of Consumer Finances and estate tax data.
    Keywords: household wealth; income tax; wealth inequality; wealth-holders
    JEL: H2 N32
    Date: 2014–10
  14. By: Robert W.R. Price; Thai-Thanh Dang; Yvan Guillemette
    Abstract: This paper estimates the elasticities of government revenue and expenditure items with respect to the output gap for European Union (EU) countries. These elasticities are used by the European Commission, as part of the EU fiscal surveillance process, to calculate the semi-elasticity of the budget balance as a percentage of GDP with respect to the output gap. The study updates the earlier 2005 study of OECD economies using the most recent datasets and tax codes, the coverage being confined in this paper to the 28 EU member states, seven of which are not OECD members. The same basic two-step methodology is retained: revenue and expenditure elasticities with respect to the output gap being defined as the product of, first, the elasticities of individual revenue and expenditure items with respect to their bases and, second, the elasticities of these bases with respect to the output gap. A number of refinements and methodological improvements are made relative to the 2005 study. The revisions to individual elasticities relative to the 2005 vintage are significant in a number of cases but do not follow a clear pattern across countries, except for the elasticities of corporate income tax revenue which are revised up in most cases.<P>Nouvelles estimations de l'élasticité des taxes et dépenses pour la surveillance budgétaire de l'UE<BR>Cette étude estime les élasticités des composantes des revenus et des dépenses gouvernementales par rapport à l’écart de production pour les pays de l’Union Européenne (UE). Ces élasticités sont utilisées par la Commission Européenne, dans son processus de surveillance fiscale, pour calculer la semi-élasticité du solde budgétaire en pourcentage du PIB par rapport à l’écart de production. L’étude met à jour la précédente étude de 2005 couvrant les économies de l’OCDE en utilisant les données et les codes des impôts les plus récents, la couverture de l’étude étant confinée aux 28 pays membres de l’UE, dont sept ne sont pas membres de l’OCDE. La même méthodologie en deux temps est retenue : les élasticités des revenus et dépenses par rapport à l’écart de production étant définies comme le produit de, en premier, l’élasticité des composantes individuelles de dépense et de revenu par rapport à leurs bases et, en deuxième, l’élasticité de ces bases par rapport à l’écart de production. Un ensemble d’améliorations méthodologique sont apportés par rapport à l’étude de 2005. Les révisions des élasticités individuelles par rapport à celles de 2005 sont significatives dans nombre de cas, mais ne suivent pas de tendance particulière, exception faite des élasticités de l’impôt sur les bénéfices qui sont révisées à la hausse dans la plupart des cas.
    Keywords: automatic stabilisers, budget elasticity, fiscal surveillance, cyclically adjusted, ajustement cyclique, stabilisateurs automatiques, élasticité budgétaire, surveillance fiscale
    JEL: E62 H30 H60
    Date: 2014–12–11
  15. By: Seelkopf, Laura; Yang, Hongyan
    Abstract: The current financial crisis has brought Europe to a critical juncture. In this paper, we map the fiscally United States of Europe. We simulate an optimal EU-wide income tax and calculate the implied cross-country transfers. The comparison of the implied transfers with the real transfers shows how insufficient the actual transfers are to reduce income disparities across the EU. Moreover, to evaluate the chances for a stronger European fiscal integration within different (core-) groups of member states, we illustrate the winners and losers from an optimal EU-wide income redistribution across the Union. While the need for centralized redistribution grows with the number of heterogeneous member states, the implementation of a European income tax becomes at the same time ever more unlikely.
    Abstract: Die Europäische Union ist durch die Finanzkrise an einen kritischen Punkt zwischen Desintegration und verstärkter Integration gelangt. In diesem Papier fokussieren wir auf Letzteres und bilden die (fiskalisch) Vereinigten Staaten von Europa ab. Dabei berechnen wir die optimale EU-Einkommenssteuer und die dadurch implizierten Transferzahlungen zwischen den Mitgliedsstaaten. Der Vergleich unserer Ergebnisse mit den real stattfindenden Transfers zeigt, dass diese viel zu niedrig sind, um die Einkommensunterschiede innerhalb der EU zu reduzieren. Um die Wahrscheinlichkeit einer fiskalischen Integration einschätzen zu können, illustrieren wir Gewinner und Verlierer einer EU-Einkommenssteuer. Wir kommen zu der Schlussfolgerung, dass eine EU-Einkommensteuer nicht implementierbar ist, egal welche Ländergruppe wir betrachten. Außerdem zeigt unsere Analyse das eigentliche Dilemma: eine EU-weite Einkommenssteuer ist schwieriger zu implementieren, je stärker die Einkommensunterschiede zwischen den Mitgliedsstaaten sind. Dies ist jedoch genau das Szenario, in dem eine fiskalische Integration besonders notwendig ist, um Lebensstandards EU-weit anzugleichen.
    Keywords: European Union,Inequality,Redistribution,Solidarity,Fiscal Policy,Optimal Taxation
    Date: 2014
  16. By: Bartels, Charlotte; Jenderny, Katharina
    Abstract: A large literature has documented top income share series based on income tax statistics using the common methodology established by Piketty (2001, 2003). The disappearance of capital income from the income tax base in many countries poses a major challenge to the comparability of these series both over time and between countries. First, we extend the existing German series including capital gains to 2010, and the series excluding capital gains to 2008. Second, we derive three homogeneous series by simulating legislative definitions of capital income prevailing in Germany between 2001 and 2010. For both simulation and the exclusion of capital gains, we employ a rich data set containing the tax files of all income taxpayers. Third, we construct a composite measure of stock dividends and interest income tax ows as a proxy for capital income missing in the data since 2009. We find that the drop in top income shares obtained from income tax statistics in the crisis year 2009 is largely attributable to the exclusion of capital income from the income tax base.
    Keywords: income inequality,income distribution,top incomes,taxation,capital,gains,Germany
    JEL: D31 H2 J3
    Date: 2014
  17. By: Blesse, Sebastian; Baskaran, Thushyanthan
    Abstract: We study the fiscal consequences of municipal mergers by making use of a largescale merger reform in the German federal state of Brandenburg. In addition to being the first evaluation of an East-German merger reform, this study contributes to the literature by exploring the fiscal consequences of both compulsory and (semi-) voluntary municipal mergers within the same institutional setting. Using a difference-in-difference design with municipality-level panel data over 1998-2005, we find substantial and immediate reductions in total, administrative, and current expenditures after compulsory mergers. Voluntary mergers, on the other hand, have smaller and less robust effects.
    Keywords: municipal mergers,economies of scale,voluntary and compulsory mergers
    JEL: H11 H72 H77 R53
    Date: 2014
  18. By: Valkonen, Tarmo; Kauppi, Eija; Suni, Paavo
    Abstract: This study simulates with two dynamic models the macroeconomic and public finance outcomes of a reduction in the corporate income tax rate in Finland. FOG-model is a dynamic CGE model, which is calibrated to the Finnish economy. NiGEM is a multi-country macroeconometric model. The results show that a surprising cut in the corporate income tax rate falls after all adjustments both on new investments and the yield of existing capital. The losses in the tax revenues are capitalized in the market value of the firms, of which many are partly foreign-owned. Investments increase, but the influence in production is mitigated by low reaction of labour supply. Wages increase as well as the public expenditure relates to wages. Gross profits do dot change much. The dynamic effects on tax bases compensate for 30–50 per cent of the losses in the corporate income tax revenues, depending on the model used. If also the increased public expenditure is considered, the compensation rate falls to 25–30 percent. If the tax rate cut is announced well in advance, both the macroeconomic and the public finance results are more favourable. The simulations do not consider the positive effects of profit shifting on corporate income tax revenues.
    Keywords: Corporate and capital income taxation, dynamic effects, CGE model, macroeconometric model
    JEL: H22 H25 C54 C68
    Date: 2014–12–11
  19. By: Paolo Brunori (University of Bari, Italy); Flaviana Palmisano (University of Luxembourg); Vito Peragine (University of Bari, Italy)
    Abstract: This paper addresses the problem of the normative evaluation of income tax systems and income tax reforms. While most of the existing criteria, framed in the utilitarian tradition, are uniquely based on information about individual incomes, this paper, building upon the opportunity egalitarian theory, proposes new equity criteria which take into account also the socio-economic characteristics of individuals. Suitable dominance conditions that can be used to rank alternative tax systems are derived by means of an axiomatic approach. Moreover, the theoretical results are used to assess the redistributive eects of an hypothetical tax reform in Romania through a microsimulation analysis.
    Keywords: income inequality, inequality of opportunity, tax reforms, microsimulation, progressivity, horizontal equity
    JEL: D63 E24 O15 O40
    Date: 2014–12
  20. By: Marcus André Melo; Armando Barrientos; André Canuto Coelho
    Abstract: The paper explores theoretically and empirically Brazil’s tax revenue from a political and political economy perspective. The absence of ‘big bang’ reforms to the tax code and tax administration suggests that policy models are less directly relevant to explaining the rise in the tax/GDP ratio. The paper makes the argument that public consent to the hike in taxes is explained by a combination of democratisation, strong preferences for redistribution, fiscally responsible centre-left coalitions, and bureaucratic capacity. New political incentives under democracy combined with high state capacity and a powerful presidency with the political resource necessary to pass an agenda of social reforms to sustain this new equilibrium of high taxation and high redistribution. The current level of taxation and spending in the country in a context in which poverty and inequality is high (although declining rapidly) has prompted concerns about the fiscal sustainability of this equilibrium. The paper argues against pessimistic accounts of this dilemma - such as the arguments based on the concepts of fiscal illusion and inequality traps - and advances an optimistic perspective based on the notion that a new fiscal contract seems to be emerging.
    Date: 2014

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