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Optimal indirect taxation with a restricted number of tax rates

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  • Belan, Pascal
  • Gauthier, Stephane

Abstract

This paper analyzes the optimal structure of indirect taxation when the number of available tax rates is smaller than the number of taxable commodities. Such a constraint requires to choose the levels of tax rates and the groups of commodities that will be taxed at equal rates (or exempted). In a partial equilibrium framework, with a single agent and a low amount of tax collection, it is shown that the process of allocation of commodities to groups depends on both price elasticities and consumption spendings. Still, the optimal tax structure displays a weak form of the inverse elasticity rule; consumption spendings influence the size of the fiscal base, and may lead to many tax exemptions.
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  • Belan, Pascal & Gauthier, Stephane, 2006. "Optimal indirect taxation with a restricted number of tax rates," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(6-7), pages 1201-1213, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:90:y:2006:i:6-7:p:1201-1213
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mirrlees, J. A., 1976. "Optimal tax theory : A synthesis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 327-358, November.
    2. Cornia, Gary C. & Edmiston, Kelly D. & Sheffrin, Steven M. & Sexton, Terri A., 2000. "An Analysis of the Feasibility of Implementing a Single Rate Sales Tax," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 53(4), pages 1327-1350, December.
    3. Gordon, James P. F., 1989. "Tax reform via commodity grouping," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 67-81, June.
    4. Cornia, Gary C. & Edmiston, Kelly D. & Sheffrin, Steven M. & Sexton, Terri A., 2000. "An Analysis of the Feasibility of Implementing a Single Rate Sales Tax," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 53(n. 4), pages 1327-50, December.
    5. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1979. "A Note on Optimal Taxation and Administrative Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(3), pages 475-480, June.
    6. Angus Deaton, 1979. "The Distance Function in Consumer Behaviour with Applications to Index Numbers and Optimal Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(3), pages 391-405.
    7. Slemrod, Joel, 1990. "Optimal Taxation and Optimal Tax Systems," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 157-178, Winter.
    8. 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.
    9. R. G. Lipsey & Kelvin Lancaster, 1956. "The General Theory of Second Best," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 11-32.
    10. Pascal Belan & Stéphane Gauthier & Guy Laroque, 2005. "The Optimal Grouping of Commodities for Indirect Taxation," Working Papers 2005-15, Center for Research in Economics and Statistics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Belan, Pascal & Gauthier, Stéphane & Laroque, Guy, 2008. "Optimal grouping of commodities for indirect taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(7), pages 1738-1750, July.

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