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Is the value added tax a useful macroeconomic stabilization instrument?

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  • Claus, Iris

Abstract

The value added tax (VAT) has been proposed as a macroeconomic stabilization instrument. This paper considers some practical implications of a variable VAT. It then develops a dynamic general equilibrium model to assess its usefulness as a stabilization instrument. A variable rate VAT would no longer be less distortionary than other taxes. It would distort between current and future consumption, i.e. savings and investment decisions, and hence raise the economic costs of taxation. Moreover, a variable VAT would be less effective in dampening business cycles than the conventional stabilization tool, an interest rate. This is because of the additional adverse supply effects. A change in the interest rate affects this period's savings and investment decisions, whereas a variable VAT rate would influence savings and investment decisions over time. A variable VAT rate is therefore unlikely to be a useful stabilization instrument.

Suggested Citation

  • Claus, Iris, 2013. "Is the value added tax a useful macroeconomic stabilization instrument?," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 366-374.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecmode:v:30:y:2013:i:c:p:366-374
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econmod.2012.08.025
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. McCallum, Bennett T. & Nelson, Edward, 1999. "Nominal income targeting in an open-economy optimizing model," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 553-578, June.
    2. McCallum, Bennett T & Nelson, Edward, 2000. "Monetary Policy for an Open Economy: An Alternative Framework with Optimizing Agents and Sticky Prices," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(4), pages 74-91, Winter.
    3. Martin Feldstein, 2009. "Rethinking the Role of Fiscal Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 556-559, May.
    4. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476, January.
    5. Bob Buckle & Aaron Drew, 2006. "Testing stabilisation policy limits in a small open economy: editor's summary of a macroeconomic policy forum," Reserve Bank of New Zealand Bulletin, Reserve Bank of New Zealand, vol. 69, pages 1-9, December.
    6. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1976. "The design of tax structure: Direct versus indirect taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 55-75.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Macroeconomic stabilization; Value added tax; Interest rate; Economic costs of taxation;

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy

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