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Tax Incidence: Do Institutions Matter? An Experimental Study

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  • James C. Cox
  • Mark Rider
  • Astha Sen

Abstract

There is perhaps no more important question in public finance than who ultimately bears the burden of a tax. According to tax incidence theory, the long-run incidence of a tax in competitive markets is independent of the assignment of the liability to pay tax. Moreover, the theory is silent on the possible effects of market institutions on tax incidence. We report data from an experiment designed to address two questions: (A) Is tax incidence independent of the assignment of the liability to pay tax in experimental markets? (B) Is tax incidence independent of the market institution in experimental markets? We conduct laboratory experiments with two market institutions: double auction and posted offer markets. Based on the results of Kolmogorov-Smirnov tests of experimental market prices, we conclude that the answer to both question A and question B is "no."

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University in its series Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series with number 2012-17.

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Length: 31
Date of creation: Oct 2012
Date of revision: Apr 2013
Handle: RePEc:exc:wpaper:2012-17

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  1. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2009. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1145-77, September.
  2. Miller, Ross M & Plott, Charles R & Smith, Vernon L, 1977. "Intertemporal Competitive Equilibrium: An Empirical Study of Speculation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 91(4), pages 599-624, November.
  3. Besley, Timothy J. & Rosen, Harvey S., 1999. "Sales Taxes and Prices: An Empirical Analysis," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 2), pages 157-78, June.
  4. Poterba, James M., 1996. "Retail Price Reactions to Changes in State and Local Sales Taxes," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 49(2), pages 165-76, June.
  5. Keeler, Theodore E. & Hu, Teh-wei & Barnett, Paul G. & Manning, Willard G. & Sung, Hai-Yen, 1996. "Do cigarette producers price-discriminate by state? An empirical analysis of local cigarette pricing and taxation," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 499-512, August.
  6. Hanson, Andrew & Sullivan, Ryan, 2009. "The Incidence of Tobacco Taxation: Evidence from Geographic Micro-Level Data," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 62(4), pages 677-98, December.
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