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Corporate Lobbying and Commitment Failure in Capital Taxation

  • Nicolas Marceau
  • Michael Smart

This paper investigates the effects of lobbying by corporations when investments are irreversible and government cannot commit to tax policies. We show that industries which rely more heavily on sunk capital lobby more vigorously and are generally more successful in obtaining tax breaks. Thus lobbying can mitigate the capital levy problem. Nevertheless, these industries invest less in long-run equilibrium than more flexible ones. We then consider the effects of relaxing legal restrictions on corporate lobbying. When the deadweight costs of lobbying fall, taxes on sunk capital tend to fall, but political contributions may rise, as lobbyists compete more intensively for political favors. On balance, a ban of lobbying may therefore cause investment to rise or fall.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 93 (2003)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 241-251

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:93:y:2003:i:1:p:241-251
Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282803321455241
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  1. Stephen Morris & Stephen Coate, 1999. "Policy Persistence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1327-1336, December.
  2. Nicolas Marceau & Michael Smart, 2000. "Business Tax Lobbying," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 102, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  3. Eckhard Janeba, 2000. "Tax Competition When Governments Lack Commitment: Excess Capacity as a Countervailing Threat," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1508-1519, December.
  4. Jaewoo Lee & Michelle R. Garfinkel, 2000. "Political Influence and the Dynamic Consistency of Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 649-666, June.
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  8. Gene Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 1994. "Electoral Competition and Special Interest Politics," NBER Working Papers 4877, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. LAUSSEL, Didier & LE BRETON, Michel, . "Conflict and cooperation. The structure of equilibrium payoffs in common agency," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1519, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  10. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Representative democracy and capital taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 53-70, September.
  11. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 2001. "Lobbying and Welfare in a Representative Democracy," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(1), pages 67-82, January.
  12. Bernheim, B Douglas & Whinston, Michael D, 1986. "Menu Auctions, Resource Allocation, and Economic Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(1), pages 1-31, February.
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