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Fair and efficient taxation under partial control: theory and evidence

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  • Erwin OOGHE
  • Andreas PEICHL

Abstract

There is clear evidence that fairness plays a role in redistribution. Individuals want to compensate others for their misfortune, while they allow them to enjoy the fruits of their effort. Such fairness considerations have been introduced in political economy and optimal income tax models with a focus on income acquisition. However, actual tax-benefit systems are based on much more information. We introduce fairness in a tax-benefit scheme that is based on several characteristics. The novelty is the introduction of partial control. Each characteristic differs in terms of the degree of control, i.e., the extent to which it can be changed by exerting effort. Two testable predictions result. First, the tax rate on partially controllable characteristics should be lower compared to the tax rate on non- controllable tags. Second, the total effect of non-controllable characteristics on the post-tax outcome should be equal to zero. We estimate implicit tax rates for different characteristics in 26 European countries (using tEU-SILC data) and the US (using CPS data). We find a robust tendency in all countries to compensate more for the uncontrollable composite characteristic (based on sex, age and disability in our study) compared to the partially controllable one (based on family composition, immigration status, unemployment and education level). We also estimate the degree of fairness of tax-benefit schemes in different countries. Only the Continental countries France and Luxembourg pass the fairness test, whereas the Baltic and Anglo-Saxon countries (including the US) perform worst.

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Paper provided by Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën in its series Center for Economic Studies - Discussion papers with number ces10.32.

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Date of creation: Dec 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ete:ceswps:ces10.32

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Cited by:
  1. Judith Niehues & Andreas Peichl, 2011. "Lower and Upper Bounds of Unfair Inequality: Theory and Evidence for Germany and the US," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 395, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  2. Judith Niehues & Andreas Peichl, 2012. "Bounds of Unfair Inequality of Opportunity: Theory and Evidence for Germany and the US," CESifo Working Paper Series 3815, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Bargain, Olivier & Decoster, André & Dolls, Mathias & Neumann, Dirk & Peichl, Andreas & Siegloch, Sebastian, 2011. "Welfare, labor supply and heterogeneous preferences: evidence for Europe and the US," EUROMOD Working Papers EM5/11, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  4. Bastani, Spencer, 2012. "Gender-Based and Couple-Based Taxation," Working Paper Series, Center for Fiscal Studies 2012:6, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  5. Yochanan Shachmurove & Reuel Shinnar (Deceased), 2012. "Do Chemical Reactors Hold the Solution for Global Economic Crises?," PIER Working Paper Archive 12-010, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  6. Niehues, J. (Judith) & Andreas Peichl, 2012. "GINI DP 34: Bounds of Unfair Inequality of Opportunity: Theory and Evidence for Germany and the US," GINI Discussion Papers 34, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.

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