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Toward a More General Theory of Revenue Assignments

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Abstract

Despite the extensive international experience with the assignments of revenue sources to different levels of government, the public finance literature still lacks a general theory of revenue assignments. Two sets of arguments have been separately developed in the literature to explain and guide the practice of revenue assignments. The first is based on Musgrave and Oates’ tradition, and emphasizes the benefit principle and other means for increasing accountability and efficiency in the allocation of public expenditures. The second is based on optimal taxation principles, which emphasizes the marginal cost of public funds and the correct mix of revenue instruments. The two approaches provide important insights to the problem, but they remain practically unconnected. This paper develops a theory of revenue assignments that integrates the two approaches. We discuss the validity and scope of currently applied revenue assignment rules, and provide practical recommendations to implement an optimal assignment of revenue sources.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University in its series International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU with number paper1231.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: 09 Oct 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ays:ispwps:paper1231

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Keywords: revenue assignments; fiscal federalism; optimal taxation; marginal cost of funds; public expenditures;

References

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  1. Bev Dahlby, 1996. "Fiscal externalities and the design of intergovernmental grants," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 397-412, July.
  2. Mieszkowski, Peter & Musgrave, Richard A., 1999. "Federalism, Grants, and Fiscal Equalization," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 2), pages 239-60, June.
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  7. Brian Knight, 2002. "Endogenous Federal Grants and Crowd-out of State Government Spending: Theory and Evidence from the Federal Highway Aid Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 71-92, March.
  8. 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.
  9. Jorge Martinez-Vazquez, 2007. "Revenue Assignments in the Practice of Fiscal Decentralization," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0709, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  10. Robin Boadway and Michael Keen, . "Efficiency and the Optimal Direction of Federal-State Transfers," Economics Discussion Papers 445, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  11. Robin W. Boadway & Frank R. Flatters, 1982. "Efficiency and Equalization Payments in a Federal System of Government: A Synthesis and Extension of Recent Results," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 15(4), pages 613-33, November.
  12. Auerbach, Alan J. & Hines, James Jr., 2002. "Taxation and economic efficiency," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 21, pages 1347-1421 Elsevier.
  13. Seabright, Paul, 1996. "Accountability and decentralisation in government: An incomplete contracts model," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 61-89, January.
  14. Robin Boadway & Jean-Francois Tremblay, 2005. "A Theory of Vertical Fiscal Imbalance," Working Papers 2006-04, University of Kentucky, Institute for Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations.
  15. Sam Bucovetsky & Michael Smart, 2002. "The Efficiency Consequences of Local Revenue Equalization: Tax Competition and Tax Distortions," CESifo Working Paper Series 767, CESifo Group Munich.
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  23. repec:fth:louvco:9803 is not listed on IDEAS
  24. Michael Smart, 1998. "Taxation and Deadweight Loss in a System of Intergovernmental Transfers," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 31(1), pages 189-206, February.
  25. Gordon, Nora, 2004. "Do federal grants boost school spending? Evidence from Title I," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1771-1792, August.
  26. Flatters, Frank & Henderson, Vernon & Mieszkowski, Peter, 1974. "Public goods, efficiency, and regional fiscal equalization," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 99-112, May.
  27. B. Dahlby & L. S. Wilson, 1994. "Fiscal Capacity, Tax Effort, and Optimal Equalization Grants," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 27(3), pages 657-72, August.
  28. James M. Buchanan & Richard E. Wagner, 1970. "An Efficiency Basis for Federal Fiscal Equalization," NBER Chapters, in: The Analysis of Public Output, pages 139-162 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  29. Jameson Boex & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez, 2004. "Designing Intergovernmental Equalization Transfers with Imperfect Data: Concepts, Practices, and Lessons," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0421, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
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