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In A World Without Borders: The Impact Of Taxes On Internet Commerce

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  • Austan Goolsbee

Abstract

The rapid rise in sales over the Internet and the fact that most Internet buyers pay no sales tax has ignited a considerable debate over taxes and the Internet. This paper uses new data on the purchase decisions of approximately 25,000 online users to examine the effect of local sales taxes on Internet commerce. The results suggest that, controlling for observable characteristics, people living in high sales taxes locations are significantly more likely to buy online. The results are quite robust and cannot be explained by unobserved technological sophistication, shopping costs, or other alternative explanations. The magnitudes in the paper suggest that applying existing sales taxes to Internet commerce might reduce the number of online buyers by up to 24 percent. © 2000 the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 115 (2000)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 561-576

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:2:p:561-576

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Web page: http://mitpress.mit.edu/journals/

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  1. Austan Goolsbee, 1997. "Investment Tax Incentives, Prices, and the Supply of Capital Goods," NBER Working Papers 6192, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Galbraith, John W. & Kaiserman, Murray, 1997. "Taxation, smuggling and demand for cigarettes in Canada: Evidence from time-series data," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 287-301, June.
  3. Besley, Timothy J. & Rosen, Harvey S., 1999. "Sales Taxes and Prices: An Empirical Analysis," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 2), pages 157-78, June.
  4. Oecd, 1998. "Electronic Commerce: Prices and Consumer Issues for Three Products: Books, Compact Discs and Software," OECD Digital Economy Papers 32, OECD Publishing.
  5. Fox, William F. & Murray, Matthew N., 1997. "The Sales Tax and Electronic Commerce: So What's New?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 50(3), pages 573-92, September.
  6. Ravi Kanbur & Michael Keen, 1991. "Jeux Sans Frontieres: Tax Competition and Tax Coordination when Countries Differ in Size," Working Papers 819, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  7. Goolsbee, Austan & Klenow, Peter J, 2002. "Evidence on Learning and Network Externalities in the Diffusion of Home Computers," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(2), pages 317-43, October.
  8. Mackie-Mason, J.K. & Varian, H.R., 1993. "Pricing the Internet," Memorandum 20/1993, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  9. Gordon, Roger H, 1983. "An Optimal Taxation Approach to Fiscal Federalism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(4), pages 567-86, November.
  10. Tom Downes & Shane Greenstein, 2000. "Universal Access and Local Commercial Internet Markets," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0017, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  11. Poterba, James M., 1996. "Retail Price Reactions to Changes in State and Local Sales Taxes," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 49(2), pages 165-76, June.
  12. Shane Greenstein, 1998. "Universal Service in the Digital Age: The Commercialization and Geography of U.S. Internet Access," NBER Working Papers 6453, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Trandel, Gregory A., 1992. "Evading the use tax on cross-border sales : Pricing and welfare effects," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 313-331, December.
  14. Thomas J. Holmes, 1998. "The Effect of State Policies on the Location of Manufacturing: Evidence from State Borders," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(4), pages 667-705, August.
  15. MINTZ, Jack & TULKENS, Henry, . "Commodity tax competition between member states of a federation: equilibrium and efficiency," CORE Discussion Papers RP -693, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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