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Green Taxes and Administrative Costs: The Case of Carbon Taxation

In: Behavioral and Distributional Effects of Environmental Policy

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  • Sjak Smulders
  • Herman R. J. Vollebergh

Abstract

This paper explores the trade-off between incentive effects and administrative costs associated with the implementation of various environmental tax instruments, with special reference to carbon taxes. In a simple model, we show under what conditions it is optimal to use input rather than emission taxes to internalize environmental externalities. Mixed tax regimes are also studied. If linkage of emissions to inputs is close, if abatement possibilities are costly, and if administrative costs of emission taxes are high, emission taxes should not be introduced. It is shown that these conditions directly apply to current tax policies toward CO2 emissions in several European countries that harness pre-existing energy taxes. First, there is a one-to-one correspondence between carbon content of energy and CO2 emissions. Second, only few possibilities exist to abate CO2 emissions separately. Third, energy excises allow to save on administrative costs. Broadening the carbon tax base by removing certain widely-used exemptions for energy production (and possibly adding emission taxes or abatement subsidies for selected industries) is likely to increase incentives for carbon reduction without significant additional administrative costs.

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This chapter was published in:

  • Carlo Carraro & Gilbert E. Metcalf, 2001. "Behavioral and Distributional Effects of Environmental Policy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number carr01-1, octubre-d.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 10606.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:10606

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    References

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    1. Thomas A. Barthold, 1994. "Issues in the Design of Environmental Excise Taxes," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 133-151, Winter.
    2. Don Fullerton & Inkee Hong & Gilbert E. Metcalf, 1999. "A Tax on Output of the Polluting Industry is Not a Tax on Pollution: The Importance of Hitting the Target," NBER Working Papers 7259, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Schmutzler, Armin & Goulder, Lawrence H., 1997. "The Choice between Emission Taxes and Output Taxes under Imperfect Monitoring," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 51-64, January.
    4. Don Fullerton, 1995. "Why Have Separate Environmental Taxes?," NBER Working Papers 5380, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Stephen Smith, 1992. "Taxation and the environment: a survey," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 13(4), pages 21-57, January.
    6. Slemrod, Joel & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 2002. "Tax avoidance, evasion, and administration," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 22, pages 1423-1470 Elsevier.
    7. Louis Kaplow, 1989. "Optimal Taxation with Costly Enforcement and Evasion," NBER Working Papers 2996, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Don Fullerton & Ann Wolverton, 1997. "The Case for a Two-Part Instrument: Presumptive Tax and Environmental Subsidy," NBER Working Papers 5993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Pearce, David W, 1991. "The Role of Carbon Taxes in Adjusting to Global Warming," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(407), pages 938-48, July.
    10. Paul Ekins & Stefan Speck, 1999. "Competitiveness and Exemptions From Environmental Taxes in Europe," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 13(4), pages 369-396, June.
    11. Lawrence Goulder, 1995. "Environmental taxation and the double dividend: A reader's guide," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 157-183, August.
    12. Herman Vollebergh & Jan Vries & Paul Koutstaal, 1997. "Hybrid carbon incentive mechanisms and political acceptability," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 9(1), pages 43-63, January.
    13. James M. Poterba, 1991. "Tax Policy to Combat Global Warming: On Designing a Carbon Tax," NBER Working Papers 3649, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. James Shortle & David Abler & Richard Horan, 1998. "Research Issues in Nonpoint Pollution Control," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 11(3), pages 571-585, April.
    15. Mitchell Polinsky, A. & Shavell, Steven, 1982. "Pigouvian taxation with administrative costs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 385-394, December.
    16. Feldstein, Martin, 1976. "On the theory of tax reform," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 77-104.
    17. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1979. "A Note on Optimal Taxation and Administrative Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(3), pages 475-80, June.
    18. Smith, S & McKay, Stephen & Pearson, M, 1990. "Fiscal instruments in environmental policy," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 11(4), pages 1-20, November.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:
    1. Herman Vollebergh, 2004. "Lessons from the Polder: Is Dutch CO2-Taxation Optimal?," Working Papers 2004.6, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    2. Pope, Jeff & Owen, Anthony D., 2009. "Emission trading schemes: potential revenue effects, compliance costs and overall tax policy issues," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(11), pages 4595-4603, November.
    3. Brenner, Mark & Riddle, Matthew & Boyce, James K., 2007. "A Chinese sky trust?: Distributional impacts of carbon charges and revenue recycling in China," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 1771-1784, March.
    4. DAUBANES Julien, 2009. "Changement climatique, instruments économiques et propositions pour un accord post-Kyoto : une synthèse," LERNA Working Papers 09.19.295, LERNA, University of Toulouse.
    5. Herman R. J. Vollebergh, 2005. "Should Energy Taxation “Go Dutch”?," CESifo DICE Report, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 3(1), pages 60-66, 04.
    6. John K. Stranlund & Carlos A. Chavez, 2011. "Who Should Bear the Administrative Costs of an Emissions Tax?," Working Papers 2011-3, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Resource Economics.
    7. Vollebergh, Herman R.J., 2008. "Lessons from the polder: Energy tax design in The Netherlands from a climate change perspective," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(3), pages 660-672, January.
    8. James Boyce & Matthew Riddle & Mark D. Brenner, 2005. "A Chinese Sky Trust? Distributional Impacts of Carbon charges and Revenue Recycling in China," Working Papers wp_brenner_riddle_boyce, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

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