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How Fiscal Decentralization Flattens Progressive Taxes

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  • Roland Hodler
  • Kurt Schmidheiny

Abstract

We study the tension between fiscal decentralization and progressive taxation. We present a multi-community model in which the local income tax rate is determined by an exogenous progressive tax schedule and a tax shifter that can differ across communities. The progressivity of the tax schedule induces a self-sorting process that results in substantial though imperfect income sorting. Rich households are more likely to locate themselves in low tax communities than poor households. The actual tax structure is thus less progressive than the exogenous tax schedule. To investigate the quantitative implications of our model, we calibrate a fully-specified version to the largest metropolitan area in Switzerland. The equilibrium values of the simulation show the same pattern across communities as we observe in this area. The theoretical result is challenged by estimating the actual tax structure faced by the households in this area. We find that the actual tax structure is indeed substantially less progressive than the fixed tax schedule.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, Tufts University in its series Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University with number 0508.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:tuf:tuftec:0508

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Keywords: Progressive Taxation; Fiscal Decentralization; Income Segregation;

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References

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  1. Kurt Schmidheiny, 2004. "Income Segregation and Local Progressive Taxation: Empirical Evidence from Switzerland," CESifo Working Paper Series 1313, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Kurt Schmidheiny, 2005. "Income Segregation from Local Income Taxation When Households Differ in Both Preferences and Incomes," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0509, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  3. Ellickson, Bryan, 1971. "Jurisdictional Fragmentation and Residential Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(2), pages 334-39, May.
  4. Epple, Dennis & Platt, Glenn J., 1998. "Equilibrium and Local Redistribution in an Urban Economy when Households Differ in both Preferences and Incomes," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 23-51, January.
  5. Epple, Dennis & Romer, Thomas, 1991. "Mobility and Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 828-58, August.
  6. Mayo, Stephen K., 1981. "Theory and estimation in the economics of housing demand," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 95-116, July.
  7. Dennis Epple & Holger Sieg, 1999. "Estimating Equilibrium Models of Local Jurisdictions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(4), pages 645-681, August.
  8. Hansen, Julia L. & Formby, John P. & Smith, W. James, 1998. "Estimating the Income Elasticity of Demand for Housing: A Comparison of Traditional and Lorenz-Concentration Curve Methodologies," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 328-342, December.
  9. Hardman, Anna & Ioannides, Yannis M., 2004. "Neighbors' income distribution: economic segregation and mixing in US urban neighborhoods," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 368-382, December.
  10. Wallace E. Oates, 1999. "An Essay on Fiscal Federalism," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1120-1149, September.
  11. Young, H Peyton, 1990. "Progressive Taxation and Equal Sacrifice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 253-66, March.
  12. Ross, Stephen & Yinger, John, 1999. "Sorting and voting: A review of the literature on urban public finance," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: P. C. Cheshire & E. S. Mills (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 47, pages 2001-2060 Elsevier.
  13. Martin Feldstein & Marian Vaillant, 1994. "Can State Taxes Redistribute Income?," NBER Working Papers 4785, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Westhoff, Frank, 1977. "Existence of equilibria in economies with a local public good," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 84-112, February.
  15. Goodspeed, Timothy J., 1989. "A re-examination of the use of ability to pay taxes by local governments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 319-342, April.
  16. Hansen, Julia L. & Formby, John P. & Smith, W. James, 1996. "The Income Elasticity of Demand for Housing: Evidence from Concentration Curves," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 173-192, March.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Christoph A. Schaltegger & Frank Somogyi & Jan-Egbert Sturm, 2009. "Tax Competition and Income Sorting: Evidence from the Zurich Metropolitan Area," KOF Working papers 09-240, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
  2. Gilbert E. Metcalf & Jongsang Park, 2005. "A Comment on the Role of Prices for Excludable Public Goods," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0524, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  3. Yannis M. Ioannides & Adriaan R. Soetevent, 2005. "Social Networking and Individual Outcomes Beyond the Mean Field Case," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0521, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  4. Antoni Calvo-Armengol & Yannis M. Ioannides, 2005. "Social Networks in Labor Markets," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0517, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  5. Schmidheiny, Kurt, 2006. "Income segregation and local progressive taxation: Empirical evidence from Switzerland," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(3), pages 429-458, February.
  6. Konrad, Kai A & Skaperdas, Stergios, 1999. "The Market for Protection and the Origin of the State," CEPR Discussion Papers 2173, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Darlene Chisholm & Margaret McMillan & George Norman, 2010. "Product differentiation and film-programming choice: do first-run movie theatres show the same films?," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 34(2), pages 131-145, May.
  8. Darlene Chisholm & George Norman, 2005. "When to Exit a Product: Evidence from the U.S. Motion-Pictures Exhibition Market," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0522, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  9. Sergii Slukhai, 2009. "Inter-Location Small Business Tax Rate Variation in Ukraine: What Is Behind It?," Financial Theory and Practice, Institute of Public Finance, vol. 33(1), pages 49-71.

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