Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Exerting local tax effort or lobbying for central transfers?: Evidence from Argentina

Contents:

Author Info

  • Pablo Sanguinetti
  • Martin Besfamille

Abstract

In many countries fiscal decentralization characterizes the relationship among different levels of government. In those countries, local authorities have the prerogative to tax their constituencies. However, fiscal decentralization is seldom balanced in terms of tax and expenditure assignments. In order to equalize tax capacities, to internalize spillovers or to achieve national policy objectives, central governments often provide transfers to lower levels of government. These transfers may affect the incentives to manage or to improve fiscal performance. Specifically, according to Litvack, Ahmad and Bird (1998), such transfers may induce low `tax effort' in the regions. The purpose of this paper is to investigate theoretically and empirically this relationship between intergovernmental transfers and local tax effort. An initial problem to deal with is the definition of `tax effort' in itself. First, one can associate tax effort to high tax rates. Smart (1998) asserted that such association is inadequate. Second, one can measure tax effort using actual tax revenues or the difference between actual the predicted value of tax revenues. This approach has been mainly adopted by the empirical literature on the relationship between intergovernmental transfers and local tax effort [Baretti, Huber and Lichtblau (2000), Von Hagen and Hepp (2000), Jha, Mohanty, Chattergee and Chitkara (1999), Sagbas (2001)]. Although tax revenue is an accurate and observable variable, still one can hardly say that it is a good estimate of tax effort. The reason is for a given region in a given time period tax revenue is affected by many potential variables outside the control of local governments (like idiosyncratic shocks to some specific tax bases) which are seldom well controlled for in estimates of tax capacity. In practice local tax effort encompasses a broad set of actions. One of them is clearly the battle against tax evasion. In spite of its importance, this problem has been only recently addressed by the local public finance literature. Bordignon, Manasse and Tabellini (1996), presented a model where a local government exerts costless effort to catch tax evader workers and they showed how intergovernmental transfers affect tax enforcement. The drawback of this model is that, in reality, tax enforcement is not costless and the cost depends upon other variables chosen by local authorities, like the efficiency of the local tax administration. Although Prud'homme (1995) and Tanzi (1996) have informally signaled the possible inefficiencies of the local tax administrations, this feature has not been raised by the theoretical or the empirical literature. The purpose of this paper is precisely to incorporate such dimension in the assessment of the relationship between intergovernmental transfers and local tax effort. The theoretical framework assumes that in each region there is one representative habitant and a local government. The habitant posses a low or a high-valued property. The local government maximizes tax revenues. In a first period, the local government invests resources to improve the efficiency of the tax administration or to lobby the central government in order to obtain discretionary transfers. This decision is affected by the political cost of reforming the tax administration and on the ability of the local government to negotiate with the central government. Thus, in our model, intergovernmental transfers are endogenous and simultaneously determined with the reform of the local tax system. In a second period, the local government sets the property tax schedule. But, as the local government is unable to observe the value of the property, it has to rely on the habitant announcing this value. Finally, in the third period, the local government decides to enforce the tax law by randomly auditing such announcement. If the habitant is discovered having misreported, the local government sets the corresponding property tax and imposes a penalty. We assume that audit is perfect but costly; the cost depending on the efficiency of the local tax administration. We solve the model backwards. As the local government cannot commit to the auditing probability when it designs its tax policy, the equilibrium of the audit-report game is in mixed strategies, with auditing and tax evasion. Then we find the optimal tax schedule. In order to reduce the stake for tax evasion, the local government distorts downwardly the high-valued property tax. Finally, we solve for the decision of the local government regarding how much resources to invest for improving the efficiency of the tax administration. We find that this decision is negatively associated with the domestic political costs and positively with the ability to negotiate with the Federal Government. The predictions of the model are empirically tested using data for Argentina. The theory suggests a two-step approach. In a first stage we run a probit estimation where the probability of a certain province to reform its tax system (or receiving discretionary transfers) in a given year will be correlated with domestic political variables (e.g. divided government) and also with variables describing its bargaining power vis a vis the federal authorities (e.g. political representation at the National Congress, political party of the President vis a vis that of the Governor). In a second stage, we include this exogenous instrument of tax reform in a regression where the evolution of actual provincial tax receipts are regressed against this variable plus other controls like population, density, provincial income distribution and production structure. Notice that this two stage empirical approach allow us to deal with a frequent problem encountered in the empirical literature given by the endogeneity bias affecting some of the variables of interest, like federal transfers (e.g. Jha, Mohanty, Chattergee and Chitkara (1999), Sagbas (2001)).

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://repec.org/esLATM04/up.16682.1082059515.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Econometric Society in its series Econometric Society 2004 Latin American Meetings with number 249.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: 11 Aug 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ecm:latm04:249

Contact details of provider:
Phone: 1 212 998 3820
Fax: 1 212 995 4487
Email:
Web page: http://www.econometricsociety.org/pastmeetings.asp
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords: local tax effort - discretionary transfers - tax enforcement;

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Graetz, Michael J. & Reinganum, Jennifer F. & Wilde, Louis L., . "The Tax Compliance Game: Toward an Interactive Theory of Law Enforcement," Working Papers 589, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  2. Hepp, Ralf & von Hagen, Jürgen, 2001. "Regional Risksharing and Redistribution in the German Federation," CEPR Discussion Papers 2662, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Bordignon, Massimo & Manasse, Paolo & Tabellini, Guido, 1996. "Optimal Regional Redistribution Under Asymmetric Information," CEPR Discussion Papers 1437, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Isa Sagbas, 2001. "An econometric analysis of local fiscal response to revenue sharing in Turkey," Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 19(1), pages 85-101, February.
  5. Jones, Mark P. & Sanguinetti, Pablo & Tommasi, Mariano, 2000. "Politics, institutions, and fiscal performance in a federal system: an analysis of the Argentine provinces," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 305-333, April.
  6. Mariano Tommasi & Sebastian Saiegh & Pablo Sanguinetti, 2001. "Fiscal Federalism in Argentina: Policies, Politics, and Institutional Reform," JOURNAL OF LACEA ECONOMIA, LACEA - LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION.
  7. Prud'homme, Remy, 1995. "The Dangers of Decentralization," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 10(2), pages 201-20, August.
  8. Bernd Huber & Christian Baretti & Karl Lichtblau, 2000. "A Tax on Tax Revenue. The Incentive Effects of Equalizing Transfers: Evidence from Germany," CESifo Working Paper Series 333, CESifo Group Munich.
  9. 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.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Abdul Jalil, Ahmad Zafarullah & Abdul Karim, Noor Al-Huda, 2009. "Understanding Malaysian State Governments Fiscal Behavior: The Role of Intergovernmental Transfers," MPRA Paper 25188, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Prasant Kumar Panda & Velan Nirmala, 2013. "Central Fiscal Transfers and States' Spending In India: An Analysis of Incentive Effect," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 33(2), pages 1229-1246.
  3. Abdul Jalil, Ahmad Zafarullah, 2009. "Decentralization, Subnational Governments' Behaviour and Macroeconomic Instability: The Case of Malaysia," MPRA Paper 19071, University Library of Munich, Germany.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecm:latm04:249. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christopher F. Baum).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.