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Ownership and Use Taxes as Congestion Correcting Instruments

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  • Ngee-Choon Chia
  • Albert K C Tsui
  • John Whalley

Abstract

In countries, such as Singapore, that have implemented vehicle congestion policies, recent years have seen a shift towards motor vehicle taxes based on car use. Ownership taxes reduce the number of cars on the road, leaving the price per trip largely unaffected. Use taxes such as fuel taxes and road use charges decrease the price of trips without necessarily penalising vehicle ownership per se. This paper presents a simple general equilibrium model involving trips from residential areas to a central business district, along with modal choice between cars and public transit. Car trips involve fixed costs but have lower variable costs per trip (including convenience costs) then bus trips. Using a calibrated numerical model, we investigate the relative merits of ownership and use taxes. We compare full internalisation of congestion externalities to optimal tax outcomes for the different tax types. In our framework, use taxes restore Pareto optimality since congestion damage rises with more trips. Ownership taxes only partially internalise congestion externalities. However, in terms of revenue-raising ability, the marginal excess burdens of ownership taxes in the neighbourhood of optimal taxes are typically lower than use taxes. This is because marginal increases in ownership taxes take away part of the surplus accruing to consumers who still choose to travel by car, and thus have less distortion at the margin.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8278.

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Date of creation: May 2001
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8278

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Cited by:
  1. Richard Arnott, 2001. "The Economic Theory of Urban Traffic Congestion: A Microscopic Research Agenda," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 502, Boston College Department of Economics.
  2. Santos, Georgina & Behrendt, Hannah & Maconi, Laura & Shirvani, Tara & Teytelboym, Alexander, 2010. "Part I: Externalities and economic policies in road transport," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 2-45.
  3. De Borger, Bruno & Mayeres, Inge, 2007. "Optimal taxation of car ownership, car use and public transport: Insights derived from a discrete choice numerical optimization model," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(5), pages 1177-1204, July.
  4. De Borger Bruno & Mayeres Inge, 2004. "Taxation of car ownership, car use and public transport: insights derived from a discrete choice numerical optimisation model," Energy, Transport and Environment Working Papers Series ete0413, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiƫn, Energy, Transport and Environment.
  5. Ling Hui Tan, 2001. "Rationing Rules and Outcomes," IMF Working Papers 01/136, International Monetary Fund.
  6. Matthias Wrede, 2003. "Tax Deductibility of Commuting Expenses and Residential Land Use with more than one Center," CESifo Working Paper Series 972, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Bruno De Borger & Ismir Mulalic & Jan Rouwendal, 2013. "Substitution between Cars within the Household," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-158/VIII, Tinbergen Institute.
  8. Muthukrishnan, Subhashini, 2010. "Vehicle ownership and usage charges," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 17(6), pages 398-408, November.

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