The theory of excess burden and optimal taxation
In: Handbook of Public Economics
AbstractThe purpose of this paper is to present the chronological development ofthe concept of excess burden and the related study of optimal tax theory. A main objective of this exercise is to uncover the interrelationships among various apparently distinct results, so as to bring out the basic structure of the entire problem.The paper includes a discussion of various measures of excess burden,focusing on issues of approximation, informational requirements, aggregation over individuals, and the effects of technology. Included in the presentation of optimal tax theory is a section on tax reform, as well as an application of the theory to the case where uncertainty is present.
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