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LOST in America: Evidence on local sales taxes from national panel data

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  • Agrawal, David R.

Abstract

This paper studies comprehensive national panel data of local option sales taxes at the monthly frequency. I calculate state-by-month population weighted averages and standard deviations of local sales tax rates. I document ten stylized facts concerning the time series patterns and spatial dynamics of local sales tax rates. The paper then proposes a “tax system” approach to tax competition where states compete on a variety of margins – including restrictions on localities' tax setting authority – that are often ignored by the standard focus on tax rates. Using spatial panel data techniques and the state-by-month population weighted averages, I find a significant association between one state's tax system and its neighboring states' tax systems.

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  • Agrawal, David R., 2014. "LOST in America: Evidence on local sales taxes from national panel data," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 147-163.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:regeco:v:49:y:2014:i:c:p:147-163
    DOI: 10.1016/j.regsciurbeco.2014.09.006
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    Cited by:

    1. Saxon, Nicholas & Tosun, Mehmet S. & Yang, Jingjing, 2015. "State and Local Sales Taxes and Business Activity in the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 9413, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Agrawal, David R. & Mardan, Mohammed, 2019. "Will destination-based taxes be fully exploited when available? An application to the U.S. commodity tax system," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 169(C), pages 128-143.
    3. Rohlin, Shawn M. & Thompson, Jeffrey P., 2018. "Local sales taxes, employment, and tax competition," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 373-383.
    4. Melissa Gentry & Nadia Greenhalgh-Stanley & Shawn M. Rohlin & Jeffrey P. Thompson, 2020. "Dynamic Sales Tax Competition: Evidence from Panel Data at the Border," Working Papers 20-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    5. David R. Agrawal, 2021. "The Internet as a Tax Haven?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 13(4), pages 1-35, November.
    6. David R. Agrawal, 2015. "The Tax Gradient: Spatial Aspects of Fiscal Competition," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 1-29, May.
    7. Agrawal, David R. & Trandel, Gregory A., 2019. "Dynamics of policy adoption with state dependence," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
    8. Burge Gregory S. & Rogers Cynthia L., 2018. "Do State Sales Taxes Crowd Out Local Option Sales Taxes?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 18(3), pages 1-9, July.
    9. David R. Agrawal & William F. Fox, 2017. "Taxes in an e-commerce generation," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 24(5), pages 903-926, September.
    10. Bo Zhao, 2021. "Opting in with the Joneses: What Affects the Timing of Municipal Adoption of a Local-option Meals Tax?," Working Papers 21-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Commodity taxation; Local public finance; Fiscal federalism; Spatial tax competition; Tax systems; Municipal autonomy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism
    • K34 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Tax Law
    • L81 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce
    • R10 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General
    • R50 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - General

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