Taxes and income distribution in Chile: some unpleasant redistributive arithmetic
This paper quantifies the direct impact of taxes on income distribution at the household level in Chile and estimates the distributional effect of several changes in the tax structure. We find that income distributions before and after taxes are very similar (Gini coefficients of 0.488 and 0.496, respectively). Moreover, radical modifications of the tax structure, such as raising the value added tax from 18 to 25% or substituting a 20% flat tax for the present progressive income tax affect the after-tax distribution only slightly. We present some arithmetic showing that the scope for direct income redistribution through progressivity of the tax system is rather limited. By contrast, for parameter values observed in Chile, and possibly in most developing countries, the targeting of expenditures and the level of the average tax rate are far more important determinants of income distribution after government transfers. Thus, a high-yield proportional tax can have a far bigger equalizing impact than a low-yield progressive tax. Moreover, a simple model shows that the optimal tax system is biased against progressive taxes and towards proportional taxes, with a bias that grows with the degree of inequality of pre-tax incomes. Our results suggest that to reduce income inequality, the focus of discussion should be on the amount to be redistributed, the targeting of public spending, and the relative efficiency of alternative taxes, and not on the progressivity of the tax system.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Richard M. Bird & Luc Henry De Wulf, 1973. "Taxation and Income Distribution in Latin America: A Critical Review of Empirical Studies (FiscalitÃ© et redistribution des revenus en AmÃ©rique latine: une revue critique de quelques Ã©tudes empiriqu," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 20(3), pages 639-682, November.
- Muhammad Hussain Malik & Najam Us Saqib, 1989. "Tax Incidence by Income Classes in Pakistan," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 28(1), pages 13-26.
- N/A, 1985. "General Policy," India Quarterly: A Journal of International Affairs, , vol. 41(1), pages 74-79, January.
- N/A, 1985. "General Policy," India Quarterly: A Journal of International Affairs, , vol. 41(1), pages 112-117, January.
- Ballard, Charles L. & Fullerton, Don & Shoven, John B. & Whalley, John, 2009.
"A General Equilibrium Model for Tax Policy Evaluation,"
National Bureau of Economic Research Books,
University of Chicago Press,
edition 0, number 9780226036335.
- Charles L. Ballard & Don Fullerton & John B. Shoven & John Whalley, 1985. "A General Equilibrium Model for Tax Policy Evaluation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number ball85-1, March.
- Charles L. Ballard & Don Fullerton & John B. Shoven & John Whalley, 1985. "Introduction to "A General Equilibrium Model for Tax Policy Evaluation"," NBER Chapters, in: A General Equilibrium Model for Tax Policy Evaluation, pages 1-5 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Shah, Anwar & Whalley, John, 1991. "Tax Incidence Analysis of Developing Countries: An Alternative View," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 5(3), pages 535-552, September. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:59:y:1999:i:1:p:155-192. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.