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Tax competition among local governments: evidence from a property tax reform in Finland

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  • Teemu Lyytikäinen

Abstract

This paper uses a Finnish policy intervention to study tax competition among local governments. Changes in the statutory lower limits to the property tax rates are used as a source of exogenous variation to estimate the responses of municipalities to tax rates in their neighbouring municipalities. I do not find evidence of interdependence in property tax rates among Finnish municipalities. The results are in contrast to the earlier empirical literature, using data from other countries, that has mainly found positive interdependence in tax rates. I compare the causal estimates based on the policy change to the commonly used Spatial Lag estimates and Spatial Instrumental Variables estimates, which are based on highly restrictive assumptions. The comparisons suggest that the standard spatial econometrics methods may have a tendency to overestimate the degree of interdependence in tax rates.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT) in its series Working Papers with number 26.

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Date of creation: 31 Aug 2011
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Handle: RePEc:fer:wpaper:26

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Keywords: Property tax; tax competition; fiscal interaction; instrumental variables; spatial econometrics;

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References

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  1. Wildasin, D.E., 1987. "Nash equilibria in models of fiscal competition," CORE Discussion Papers 1987020, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  2. Richter, Wolfram F. & Wellisch, Dietmar, 1996. "The provision of local public goods and factors in the presence of firm and household mobility," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 73-93, April.
  3. Federico Revelli, 2002. "Testing the taxmimicking versus expenditure spill-over hypotheses using English data," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(14), pages 1723-1731.
  4. Edmark, Karin & Ågren, Hanna, 2008. "Identifying strategic interactions in Swedish local income tax policies," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 849-857, May.
  5. Federico Revelli, 2001. "Spatial patterns in local taxation: tax mimicking or error mimicking?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(9), pages 1101-1107.
  6. Brueckner, Jan K. & Saavedra, Luz A., 2001. "Do Local Governments Engage in Strategic Property-Tax Competition?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 54(n. 2), pages 203-30, June.
  7. Teemu Lyytikäinen, 2007. "The Effect of Three-rate Property Taxation on Housing Construction," Discussion Papers 419, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT).
  8. Beatrix Eugster & Raphaël Parchet, 2011. "Culture and Taxes: Towards Identifying Tax Competition," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 11.05, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
  9. repec:att:wimass:9127 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Steve Gibbons & Henry G. Overman, 2010. "Mostly pointless spatial econometrics?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 33559, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  11. Bordignon, Massimo & Cerniglia, Floriana & Revelli, Federico, 2003. "In search of yardstick competition: a spatial analysis of Italian municipality property tax setting," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 199-217, September.
  12. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416.
  13. Karin Edmark & Matz Dahlberg, 2004. "Is There a "Race-to-the-Bottom" in the Setting of Welfare Benefit Levels? Evidence from a Policy Intervention," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 473, Econometric Society.
  14. Zodrow, George R. & Mieszkowski, Peter, 1986. "Pigou, Tiebout, property taxation, and the underprovision of local public goods," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 356-370, May.
  15. Brueckner, Jan K., 2000. "A Tiebout/tax-competition model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 285-306, August.
  16. Buettner, Thiess, 2001. "Local business taxation and competition for capital: the choice of the tax rate," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2-3), pages 215-245, April.
  17. Wilson, John Douglas & Wildasin, David E., 2004. "Capital tax competition: bane or boon," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(6), pages 1065-1091, June.
  18. Besley, Timothy & Case, Anne, 1995. "Incumbent Behavior: Vote-Seeking, Tax-Setting, and Yardstick Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 25-45, March.
  19. Case, Anne C. & Rosen, Harvey S. & Hines, James Jr., 1993. "Budget spillovers and fiscal policy interdependence : Evidence from the states," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 285-307, October.
  20. Wilson, John Douglas, 1999. "Theories of Tax Competition," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 2), pages 269-304, June.
  21. Manski, Charles F, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 531-42, July.
  22. Maarten Allers & J. Elhorst, 2005. "Tax Mimicking and Yardstick Competition Among Local Governments in the Netherlands," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 493-513, August.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Baskaran, Thushyanthan, 2013. "Identifying local tax mimicking: Administrative borders and a policy reform," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 157, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
  2. Stephen Gibbons & Henry G. Overman, 2012. "Mostly Pointless Spatial Econometrics?," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 172-191, 05.
  3. Baskaran, Thushyanthan & Lopes da Fonseca, Mariana, 2013. "The economics and empirics of tax competition: A survey," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 163, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.

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