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Marginal Commodity Tax Reforms: A Survey

  • Alessandro Santoro

As noted 30 years ago by Martin Feldstein, optimal taxes may be useless for practical purposes and emphasis should instead be placed on the possibility of enhancing welfare by reforming existing tax rates. In this perspective, marginal commodity tax reforms are gaining increasing attention due to political and economic constraints on large reforms of direct (or indirect) taxation. In this paper, we summarize the main features and results of the literature on marginal commodity tax reforms pioneered by Ahmad and Stern, further developed by Yitzhaki and Thirsk and recently reinterpreted by Makdissi and Wodon. We establish new links to other fields of research, namely the literature on the use of equivalence scales and on poverty measurement. We also critically examine some issues associated with the implementation of marginal tax reforms with special reference to the calculation of welfare weights and revenue effects. Finally, we suggest directions for future research on poverty-reducing commodity tax reforms. Copyright 2007 The Author Journal compilation � 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Journal of Economic Surveys.

Volume (Year): 21 (2007)
Issue (Month): 4 (09)
Pages: 827-848

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Handle: RePEc:bla:jecsur:v:21:y:2007:i:4:p:827-848
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  1. Mayeres, Inge & Proost, Stef, 2001. "Marginal tax reform, externalities and income distribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 343-363, February.
  2. Mayshar, Joram & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1995. "Dalton-Improving Indirect Tax Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 793-807, September.
  3. John Creedy, 2001. "Indirect tax reform and the role of exemptions," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 22(4), pages 457-486., December.
  4. Mayshar, Joram & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1996. "Dalton-improving tax reform: When households differ in ability and needs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 399-412, November.
  5. Besley, Timothy J & Kanbur, S M Ravi, 1988. "Food Subsidies and Poverty Alleviation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(392), pages 701-19, September.
  6. Yitzhaki, Shlomo & Slemrod, Joel, 1991. "Welfare Dominance: An Application to Commodity Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 480-96, June.
  7. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1990. "On the Effect of Subsidies to Basic Food Commodities in Egypt," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(4), pages 772-92, October.
  8. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521265638 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Ray, Ranjan, 1997. " Issues in the Design and Reform of Commodity Taxes: Analytical Results and Empirical Evidence," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(4), pages 353-88, December.
  10. Newbery, David M, 1995. "The Distributional Impact of Price Changes in Hungary and the United Kingdom," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(431), pages 847-63, July.
  11. Schob, Ronnie, 1996. "Evaluating Tax Reforms in the Presence of Externalities," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(4), pages 537-55, October.
  12. Madden, David, 1995. "Labour Supply, Commodity Demand and Marginal Tax Reform," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(429), pages 485-97, March.
  13. Kakwani, Nanak C, 1977. "Applications of Lorenz Curves in Economic Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(3), pages 719-27, April.
  14. Madden, David, 1996. "Marginal Tax Reform and the Specification of Consumer Demand Systems," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(4), pages 556-67, October.
  15. King, Mervyn A., 1983. "Welfare analysis of tax reforms using household data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 183-214, July.
  16. Guesnerie, Roger, 1977. "On the direction of tax reform," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 179-202, April.
  17. Dixit, Avinash, 1975. "Welfare effects of tax and price changes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 103-123, February.
  18. Ray, Ranjan, 1999. "Marginal and Non-marginal Commodity Tax Reforms with Rank Two and Rank Three Demographic Demand Systems," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(4), pages 689-712, October.
  19. Paolo Liberati, 2001. "The Distributional Effects of Indirect Tax Changes in Italy," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 27-51, January.
  20. Makdissi, Paul & Wodon, Quentin, 2002. "Consumption dominance curves: testing for the impact of indirect tax reforms on poverty," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 227-235, April.
  21. Banks, James & Blundell, Richard & Lewbel, Arthur, 1996. "Tax Reform and Welfare Measurement: Do We Need Demand System Estimation?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(438), pages 1227-41, September.
  22. Paolo Liberati, 2003. "Poverty Reducing Reforms and Subgroup Consumption Dominance Curves," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 49(4), pages 589-601, December.
  23. Yitzhaki, Shlomo & Thirsk, Wayne, 1988. "Welfare dominance and the design of excise taxation in Cote d'Ivoire," Policy Research Working Paper Series 75, The World Bank.
  24. Mayshar, Joram, 1990. "On measures of excess burden and their application," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 263-289, December.
  25. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521397421 is not listed on IDEAS
  26. Yitzhaki, Shlomo & Lewis, Jeffrey D, 1996. "Guidelines on Searching for a Dalton-Improving Tax Reform: An Illustration with Data from Indonesia," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(3), pages 541-62, September.
  27. Decoster, Andre & Schokkaert, Erik, 1990. "Tax reform results with different demand systems," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 277-296, April.
  28. Ahmad, Ehtisham & Stern, Nicholas, 1984. "The theory of reform and indian indirect taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 259-298, December.
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