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The optimal treatment of tax expenditures

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  • Saez, Emmanuel

Abstract

This paper analyzes the optimal treatment of tax expenditures. It develops an optimal tax model where individuals derive utility from spending on a contribution' good such as charitable giving. The contribution good has also a public good effect on all individuals in the economy. The government imposes linear taxes on earnings and on the contribution good so as to maximize welfare. The government may also finance directly the contribution good out of tax revenue. Optimal tax and subsidy rates on earnings and the contribution good are expressed in terms of empirically estimable parameters and the redistributive tastes of the government. The optimal subsidy on the contribution good is increasing in the size of the price elasticity of contributions, the size of the crowding-out effect of public contributions on private contributions, and the size of the public good effect of the contribution good. Numerical simulations show that the optimal subsidy on contributions is fairly sensitive to the size of these parameters but that, in most cases, it should be lower than the earnings tax rate.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 88 (2004)
Issue (Month): 12 (December)
Pages: 2657-2684

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:88:y:2004:i:12:p:2657-2684

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. Martin Feldstein, 1993. "The Effect of Marginal Tax Rates on Taxable Income: A Panel Study of the1986 Tax Reform Act," NBER Working Papers 4496, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Clotfelter, Charles T., 1985. "Federal Tax Policy and Charitable Giving," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226110486, January.
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  5. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz & Ladoux, Norbert, 1998. "Externalities and optimal taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 343-364, December.
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  18. Roberts, Russell D, 1987. "Financing Public Goods," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(2), pages 420-37, April.
  19. Charles T. Clotfelter, 1985. "Federal Tax Policy and Charitable Giving," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number clot85-1, July.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Alan Krause, . "Taxing and Subsidising Charitable Contributions," Discussion Papers 09/23, Department of Economics, University of York.
  2. Cordes, Joseph J., 2011. "Re-Thinking The Deduction For Charitable Contributions: Evaluating The Effects Of Deficit-Reduction Proposals," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 64(4), pages 1001-24, December.
  3. Emmanuel Saez & Joel Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2012. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(1), pages 3-50, March.
  4. Jon Bakija & Bradley Heim, 2008. "How Does Charitable Giving Respond to Incentives and Income? New Estimates from Panel Data," Department of Economics Working Papers 2008-01, Department of Economics, Williams College, revised Jun 2011.
  5. Jane K. Dokko, 2008. "Does the NEA crowd out private charitable contributions to the arts?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2008-10, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  6. Jon Bakija & Bradley Heim, 2008. "How Does Charitable Giving Respond to Incentives and Income? Dynamic Panel Estimates Accounting for Predictable Changes in Taxation," NBER Working Papers 14237, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Scharf, Kimberley, 2014. "Impure prosocial motivation in charity provision: Warm-glow charities and implications for public funding," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 50-57.
  8. Gabrielle Fack & Camille Landais, 2010. "Are Tax Incentives for Charitable Giving Efficient? Evidence from France," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 117-41, May.
  9. Jon Bakija, 2013. "Tax Policy and Philanthropy: A Primer on the Evidence for the U.S. and its Implications," Department of Economics Working Papers 2013-01, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  10. Květa Kubátová & Martin Jareš, 2011. "Identification and Quantification of Tax Reliefs in the Czech Republic in the Year 2008," Politická ekonomie, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2011(4), pages 475-489.
  11. Peter Diamond & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "The Case for a Progressive Tax: From Basic Research to Policy Recommendations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 165-90, Fall.
  12. Bönke, Timm & Massarrat-Mashhadi, Nima & Sielaff, Christian, 2010. "Charitable giving in the German welfare state: Fiscal incentives and crowding out," Discussion Papers 2010/30, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  13. Diamond, Peter, 2006. "Optimal tax treatment of private contributions for public goods with and without warm glow preferences," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(4-5), pages 897-919, May.
  14. Seth H. Giertz, 2004. "Recent Literature on Taxable-Income Elasticities: Technical Paper 2004-16," Working Papers 16189, Congressional Budget Office.

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