Estimates from a consumer demand system: implications for the incidence of environmental taxes
Most studies suggest that environmental taxes are regressive, and thus are unattractive policy options. We consider the distributional effects of a gasoline tax increase using three welfare measures and under three scenarios for gas tax revenue use. To incorporate behavioral responses we use Consumer Expenditure Survey data to estimate a consumer demand system that includes gasoline, other goods, and leisure. We find that the gas tax is regressive, but that returning the revenue through a lump-sum transfer more than offsets this, yielding a net increase in progressivity. We also find that ignoring behavioral changes in distributional calculations overstates both the overall burden of the tax and its regressivity.
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