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Environmental Taxes and Pre-Existing Distortions: The Normalization Trap

  • Ronnie Schöb

The double-dividend hypothesisclaims that green taxes will both improve the environment andreduce the distortions of existing taxes. According to the earlierliterature on the double dividend the tax rate for pollutinggoods should be higher than the Pigovian tax which fully internalizesthe marginal social damage from pollution, in order to obtaina ’second dividend‘. On the contrary, Bovenberg and de Mooij(1994) argue that environmental taxes typically exacerbate, ratherthan alleviate, pre-existing distortions. The optimal pollutiontax should therefore lie below the Pigovian tax. This paper pointsout that there is no real contradiction between these apparentlyopposing policy recommendations. It will be shown that the differencein the results appears because, implicitly, different definitionsof the second-best optimal pollution tax are chosen. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

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Article provided by Springer in its journal International Tax and Public Finance.

Volume (Year): 4 (1997)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 167-176

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Handle: RePEc:kap:itaxpf:v:4:y:1997:i:2:p:167-176
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  1. A. B. Atkinson & N. H. Stern, 1974. "Pigou, Taxation and Public Goods," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(1), pages 119-128.
  2. Dixit, A. K. & Munk, K. J., 1977. "Welfare effects of tax and price changes : A correction," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 103-107, August.
  3. P. A. Diamond, 1975. "A Many-Person Ramsey Tax Rule," Working papers 146, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  4. Parry Ian W. H., 1995. "Pollution Taxes and Revenue Recycling," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages S64-S77, November.
  5. Deaton,Angus & Muellbauer,John, 1980. "Economics and Consumer Behavior," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521296762.
  6. Pearce, David W, 1991. "The Role of Carbon Taxes in Adjusting to Global Warming," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(407), pages 938-48, July.
  7. Sandmo, Agnar, 1974. "A Note on the Structure of Optimal Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(4), pages 701-06, September.
  8. Auerbach, Alan J., 1985. "The theory of excess burden and optimal taxation," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 61-127 Elsevier.
  9. A. B. Atkinson & N. H. Stern, 1974. "Pigou, Taxation and Public Goods," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(1), pages 119-128.
  10. Don Fullerton, 1996. "Second-Best Pollution Taxes," NBER Working Papers 5511, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Lee, Dwight R. & Misiolek, Walter S., 1986. "Substituting pollution taxation for general taxation: Some implications for efficiency in pollutions taxation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 338-347, December.
  12. Terkla, David, 1984. "The efficiency value of effluent tax revenues," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 107-123, June.
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