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Designing a Carbon Tax to Reduce U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions

  • Gilbert E. Metcalf

This article describes a revenue and distributionally neutral approach to reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions that uses a carbon tax. The revenue from the carbon tax is used to finance an environmental earned income tax credit designed to be distributionally neutral. The credit is linked to earned income and helps offset the regressivity of the carbon tax. The carbon tax reform proposal is also revenue neutral and avoids conflating carbon policy with debates over the appropriate size of the federal budget. The article provides a distributional analysis of the proposal and also makes a number of political, economic and administrative arguments in favor of a carbon tax and responds to the arguments that have commonly been made against using a tax-based approach to reducing U.S. emissions.

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Article provided by Association of Environmental and Resource Economists in its journal Review of Environmental Economics and Policy.

Volume (Year): 3 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (Winter)
Pages: 63-83

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Handle: RePEc:oup:renvpo:v:3:y:2009:i:1:p:63-83
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  1. Gilbert Metcalf & David Weisbach, 2008. "The Design of a Carbon Tax," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0728, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  2. Ian W. H. Parry & Kenneth A. Small, 2005. "Does Britain or the United States Have the Right Gasoline Tax?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1276-1289, September.
  3. Newell, Richard G. & Pizer, William A., 2003. "Regulating stock externalities under uncertainty," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 45(2, Supple), pages 416-432, March.
  4. John Pezzey, 1992. "The Symmetry between Controlling Pollution by Price and Controlling It by Quantity," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 25(4), pages 983-91, November.
  5. Don Fullerton & Gilbert E. Metcalf, 1997. "Environmental Taxes and the Double Dividends Hypothesis: Did You Really Expect Something for Nothing?," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 9706, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  6. Kevin A. Hassett & Aparna Mathur & Gilbert E. Metcalf, 2007. "The Incidence of a U.S. Carbon Tax: A Lifetime and Regional Analysis," NBER Working Papers 13554, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Hoel, Michael & Karp, Larry, 2001. "Taxes versus Quotas for a Stock Pollutant," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt5fx9p7kf, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  8. Metcalf, Gilbert E., 1999. "A Distributional Analysis of Green Tax Reforms," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 4), pages 655-82, December.
  9. Lawrence Goulder, 1995. "Environmental taxation and the double dividend: A reader's guide," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 157-183, August.
  10. Philippe Quirion, 2004. "Prices versus Quantities in a Second-Best Setting," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 29(3), pages 337-360, November.
  11. Kevin A. Hassett & Gilbert E. Metcalf, 1992. "Energy Tax Credits and Residential Conservation Investment," NBER Working Papers 4020, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Hassett, Kevin A. & Metcalf, Gilbert E., 1995. "Energy tax credits and residential conservation investment: Evidence from panel data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 201-217, June.
  13. Larry Karp & Jiangfeng Zhang, 2005. "Regulation of Stock Externalities with Correlated Abatement Costs," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 32(2), pages 273-300, October.
  14. Bruce D. Meyer & Dan T. Rosenbaum, 1998. "Welfare, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Labor Supply of Single Mothers," JCPR Working Papers 32, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
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