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Tax tilting and politics: Some theory and evidence for Latin America

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  • Pastén, Roberto
  • Cover, James P.

Abstract

A government budget deficit can exist for at least two possible reasons: tax smoothing and/or tax tilting. Under tax-smoothing, deficits are temporary phenomena resulting from the decision not to vary the tax rate in response to fluctuations in government spending (as a share of output). This is done in order to minimize the distortionary cost of taxes. Tax tilting occurs whenever the government has an incentive to discount the losses to society from taxes at a higher rate than society discounts them; hence it delays taxes or advances spending introducing an upward trend in total government debt. This paper develops a model that implies that tax-tilting tends to increase with political risk. An increase in political risk, measured by the probability of losing power, increases the rate at which the government discounts the future, causing government policy to be relatively more myopic. Hence it delays taxes or advances spending and its deficit increases. Using data from a panel of 19 Latin-American countries for the period 1984–2009, the paper presents estimation results that strongly support the proposition that an increase in political risk increases the degree of tax-tilting.

Suggested Citation

  • Pastén, Roberto & Cover, James P., 2015. "Tax tilting and politics: Some theory and evidence for Latin America," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 208-218.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jmacro:v:44:y:2015:i:c:p:208-218
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jmacro.2015.02.006
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Thomas McGregor, 2017. "Pricing sovereign debt in resource rich economies," OxCarre Working Papers 194, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
    2. de Mendonça, Helder Ferreira & Nascimento, Natalia Cunha, 2020. "Monetary policy efficiency and macroeconomic stability: Do financial openness and economic globalization matter?," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 51(C).
    3. Thomas McGregor, 2017. "Pricing sovereign debt in resource rich economies," OxCarre Working Papers 194, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
    4. Roberto Pasten & James P. Cover, 2010. "The Political Economy of Unsustainable Fiscal Deficits," Latin American Journal of Economics-formerly Cuadernos de Economía, Instituto de Economía. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile., vol. 47(136), pages 169-189.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Tax tilting; Tax smoothing; Political risk; Interaction models;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus

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