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Exchange rate implications of Border Tax Adjustment neutrality

Listed author(s):
  • Buiter, Willem H.

This paper investigates the implications for the nominal exchange rate of a Border Tax Adjustment (BTA) when there is BTA neutrality. A border tax adjustment is a change from an origin-based system of taxation, that taxes exports but exempts imports to a destination-based system that taxes imports but exempts exports. Both indirect taxes (e.g. a VAT) and direct taxes (e.g. a cash-flow corporate profit tax) can be subject to a BTA. In the US, a BTA for the corporate profit tax is under discussion. There is BTA neutrality when the real equilibrium, including measures of profitability and competitiveness, of an open economy is unchanged when it moves from an origin-based to a destination-based tax. The conventional wisdom on the exchange rate implications of a neutral BTA is that the currency of the country implementing the BTA will strengthen (appreciate) by a percentage equal to the VAT or CPT tax rate. The main insight of this note is that this 'appreciation presumption' is not robust, even when all conditions for full BTA neutrality are satisfied. Indeed, plausible alternative assumptions about constancy (or stickiness) of nominal prices support a weakening (depreciation) of the currency by the same percentage as the tax rate. On the basis on the very patchy available empirical information, it is not possible to take a view with any degree of confidence on the implications of a BTA for the nominal exchange rate, even if full BTA neutrality prevailed. Whether BTA neutrality itself is a feature of the real world is also a disputed empirical issue. Therefore, buyer (or seller) beware.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.5018/economics-ejournal.ja.2017-12
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File URL: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/157905/1/887432492.pdf
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Article provided by Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW) in its journal Economics: The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal.

Volume (Year): 11 (2017)
Issue (Month): ()
Pages: 1-41

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Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifweej:201712
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  1. Keen, Michael & Lahiri, Sajal, 1998. "The comparison between destination and origin principles under imperfect competition," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 323-350, August.
  2. Nicolas Berman & Alan Asprilla & Olivier Cadot & Mélise Jaud, 2015. "Pricing-to-market, Trade Policy, and Market Power," IHEID Working Papers 04-2015, Economics Section, The Graduate Institute of International Studies.
  3. Whalley, John, 1979. "Uniform domestic tax rates, trade distortions and economic integration," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 213-221, March.
  4. Edward John Ray, 1975. "The Impact of Monopoly Pricing on the Lerner Symmetry Theorem," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 89(4), pages 591-602.
  5. Doireann Fitzgerald & Stefanie Haller, 2014. "Pricing-to-Market: Evidence From Plant-Level Prices," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(2), pages 761-786.
  6. Gary Clyde Hufbauer & Carol Gabyzon, 1996. "Fundamental Tax Reform and Border Tax Adjustments," Peterson Institute Press: Policy Analyses in International Economics, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number pa43, February.
  7. Paul Krugman, 1986. "Pricing to Market when the Exchange Rate Changes," NBER Working Papers 1926, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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