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Tax reform with useful public expenditures

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  • Steven P. Cassou
  • Kevin J. Lansing

Abstract

This paper examines the economic effects of tax reform in an endogenous growth model that allows for two types of useful public expenditures; one type contributes to human capital information while the other provides direct utility to households. We show that the optimal fiscal policy calls for full expensing of private investment which shifts the tax base to private consumption. The efficient levels of public investment and public consumption relative to output are uniquely pinned down by parameters that govern both technology and preferences. In general, implementing the optimal fiscal policy requires a change in the size of government. If a tax reform holds the size of government fixed to satisfy a revenue-neutrality constraint, then the reform will be suboptimal; theory alone cannot tell us if welfare will be improved. For some calibrations of the model, we find that commonly-proposed versions of revenue-neutral tax reforms can result in large welfare gains. For other quite plausible calibrations, the exact same reform can result in tiny or even negative welfare gains as the revenue-neutrality constraint becomes more severely binding. Comparing across calibrations, we find that the welfare rankings of various reforms can change, depending on parameter values. Overall, our results highlight the uncertainty surrounding the potential welfare benefits of fundamental U.S. tax reform.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in its series Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory with number 98-09.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfap:98-09

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Keywords: Human capital ; Income tax ; Tax reform ; Fiscal policy;

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References

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  1. Gerhard Glomm & B. Ravikumar, 1998. "Flat-Rate Taxes, Government Spending on Education, and Growth," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 306-325, January.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Mathias Trabandt, 2007. "Optimal Pre-Announced Tax Reform Revisited," Economics Working Papers ECO2007/52, European University Institute.
  2. Harald Uhlig & Mathias Trabandt, 2009. "How Far are We from the Slippery Slope? The Laffer Curve Revisited," Working Papers 2009-005, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
  3. Keith Blackburn & Dimitrios Varvarigos, 2008. "Human capital accumulation and output growth in a stochastic environment," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 435-452, September.
  4. Pierre-Richard Agénor, 2008. "Fiscal policy and endogenous growth with public infrastructure," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(1), pages 57-87, January.
  5. Hung-Ju Chen & Been-Lon Chen & Ping Wang, 2010. "Taxing Capital is Not a Bad Idea Indeed: The Role of Human Capital and Labor-Market Frictions," 2010 Meeting Papers 827, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Cassou, Steven P. & Hamilton, Stephen F. & Gorostiaga Alonso, Miren Arantzazu & Gutiérrez Huerta, María José, 2006. "Second-best tax policy in a growing economy with externalities," DFAEII Working Papers 2006-03, University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis II.
  7. K Blackburn & D Varvarigos, 2006. "Human Capital Accumulation in a Stochastic Environment: Some New Results on the Relationship Between Growth and Volatility," Centre for Growth and Business Cycle Research Discussion Paper Series 74, Economics, The Univeristy of Manchester.
  8. Lansing, Kevin J., 2012. "Speculative growth, overreaction, and the welfare cost of technology-driven bubbles," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(3), pages 461-483.
  9. Xavier Pautrel, 2009. "Time-separable Utility, Leisure and Human Capital Accumulation: What New Implications for the Environment-Growth Nexus?," Working Papers 2009.104, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  10. Gorostiaga Alonso, Miren Arantzazu & Cassou, Steven P., 2007. "Optimal fiscal policy in a multisector model with minimum expenditure requirements," DFAEII Working Papers 2007-01, University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis II.
  11. Trabandt, Mathias & Uhlig, Harald, 2011. "The Laffer curve revisited," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(4), pages 305-327.

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