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A Simple Model Of Optimal Tax Systems: Taxation, Measurement And Uncertainty

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  • SANJIT DHAMI
  • ALI AL-NOWAIHI

Abstract

The neglect of administrative issues is a serious limitation of optimal tax theory, with implications for its practical applicability. We focus on an important class of administrative problems, namely that the tax bases are measured with some error. We also consider the full set of tax instruments. We find that consumption taxes can perform the 'social insurance role of taxation', a role previously ascribed only to income taxes. A combination of income and consumption taxes can hedge income and measurement-error risks better, relative to the imposition of either type of tax alone. The optimal tax rate is increasing in the precision with which the corresponding tax base is measured. The taxpayer engages in precautionary savings in response to income uncertainty and measurement problems. Differential commodity taxes tailored to the measurability characteristics of the different tax bases dominate uniform commodity taxes. However, as an economy becomes large, optimal taxes converge to uniform (or flat rate) taxes. Copyright © 2006 The Authors; Journal compilation © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd and The University of Manchester.

Suggested Citation

  • Sanjit Dhami & Ali Al-Nowaihi, 2006. "A Simple Model Of Optimal Tax Systems: Taxation, Measurement And Uncertainty," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 74(6), pages 645-669, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:manchs:v:74:y:2006:i:6:p:645-669
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Burgess, Robin & Stern, Nicholas, 1993. "Taxation and Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 762-830, June.
    2. Strawczynski, Michel, 1998. "Social insurance and the optimum piecewise linear income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 371-388, September.
    3. Chris Heady, 1993. "Optimal taxation as a guide to tax policy: a survey," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 14(1), pages 15-41, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Matsaganis, Manos & Benedek, Dóra & Flevotomou, Maria & Lelkes, Orsolya & Mantovani, Daniela & Nienadowska, Sylwia, 2010. "Distributional implications of income tax evasion in Greece, Hungary and Italy," MPRA Paper 21465, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Manos Matsaganis & Maria Flevotomou, 2010. "Distributional Implications of Tax Evasion in Greece," GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe 31, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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