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Business taxes and the electoral cycle

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  • Dirk Foremny

    ()
    (University of Bonn)

  • Nadine Riedel

    ()
    (University of Hohenheim & Oxford University CBT & CESifo Munich)

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to assess whether politicians manipulate the timing of tax rate changes in a strategic way to maximize reelection prospects. To do so, we exploit the German local business tax as a testing ground which is set autonomously by German municipalities. As election dates vary across local councils, the data allows us to disentangle effects related to the timing of elections from common trends. Using a rich panel data-set for German municipalities, we assess the impact of elections on local business tax choices. The findings support the notion of a political cycle in tax setting behavior as the growth rate of the local business tax is significantly reduced in the election year and the year prior to the election, while it jumps up in the year after the election. This pattern turns out to be robust against a number of sensitivity checks.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB) in its series Working Papers with number 2012/3.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ieb:wpaper:2012/3/doc2012-3

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Keywords: Local business tax choice; political economy; election cycle;

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References

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  1. Ronald Kneebone & Kenneth McKenzie, 2001. "Electoral and Partisan Cycles in Fiscal Policy: An Examination of Canadian Provinces," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 8(5), pages 753-774, November.
  2. Rogoff, Kenneth & Sibert, Anne, 1988. "Elections and Macroeconomic Policy Cycles," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(1), pages 1-16, January.
  3. Devereux, M.P. & Lockwood, B. & Redoano, M., 2007. "Horizontal and vertical indirect tax competition: Theory and some evidence from the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(3-4), pages 451-479, April.
  4. Wilson, John Douglas, 1999. "Theories of Tax Competition," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 2), pages 269-304, June.
  5. Alberto Alesina & Nouriel Roubini & Gerald D. Cohen, 1997. "Political Cycles and the Macroeconomy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262510944, December.
  6. Wiji Arulampalam & Michael P Devereux & Giorgia Maffini, 2009. "The Direct Incidence of Corporate Income Tax on Wages," Working Papers 0917, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
  7. Lindbeck, Assar, 1976. "Stabilization Policy in Open Economies with Endogenous Politicians," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 1-19, May.
  8. Nordhaus, William D, 1975. "The Political Business Cycle," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(2), pages 169-90, April.
  9. Dahlberg, Matz & Mörk, Eva, 2008. "Is there an election cycle in public employment? Separating time effects from election year effects," Working Paper Series 2008:4, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  10. Linda Veiga & Francisco Veiga, 2007. "Political business cycles at the municipal level," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 131(1), pages 45-64, April.
  11. A. Colin Cameron & Jonah B. Gelbach & Douglas L. Miller, 2006. "Robust Inference with Multi-way Clustering," NBER Technical Working Papers 0327, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. John Mikesell, 1978. "Election periods and state tax policy cycles," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 33(3), pages 99-106, January.
  13. Michael A. Nelson, 2000. "Electoral Cycles and the Politics of State Tax Policy," Public Finance Review, , vol. 28(6), pages 540-560, November.
  14. Buettner, Thiess, 2003. "Tax base effects and fiscal externalities of local capital taxation: evidence from a panel of German jurisdictions," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 110-128, July.
  15. Schuknecht, Ludger, 2000. " Fiscal Policy Cycles and Public Expenditure in Developing Countries," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 102(1-2), pages 115-30, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Fossen, Frank M. & Freier, Ronny & Martin, Thorsten, 2014. "Race to the debt trap? Spatial econometric evidence on debt in German municipalities," Discussion Papers 2014/1, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  2. Antoine CAZALS & Alexandre Sauquet, 2013. "When does cooperation win and why? Political cycles and participation in international environmental agreements," Working Papers halshs-00903653, HAL.
  3. Marcel Gérard & Laurent van Malderen, 2012. "Tax Interaction among Walloon Municipalities: Is there Room for Yardstick Competition, Intellectual Trend and Partisan Monopoly Effect?," CESifo Working Paper Series 4025, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Janeba, Eckhard & Osterloh, Steffen, 2013. "Tax and the city — A theory of local tax competition," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 89-100.
  5. Maria Teresa Balaguer-Coll & María Isabel Brun-Martos & Anabel Forte & Emili Tortosa-Ausina, 2014. "Determinants of local governments'­ reelection: New evidence based on a Bayesian approach," Working Papers 2014/06, Economics Department, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón (Spain).
  6. Laurent Van Malderen & Marcel Gérard, 2012. "Tax Interaction Among Walloon Municipalities: Is There Room For Partisan Monopoly Effect?," ERSA conference papers ersa12p1051, European Regional Science Association.

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