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Exchange rate implications of Border Tax Adjustment neutrality

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  • Buiter, Willem H.

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Buiter, Willem H., 2017. "Exchange rate implications of Border Tax Adjustment neutrality," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 11, pages 1-41.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifweej:201712
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.5018/economics-ejournal.ja.2017-12
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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. Ural Marchand, Beyza, 2012. "Tariff pass-through and the distributional effects of trade liberalization," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 265-281.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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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    Cited by:

    1. Baumann, Ursel & Dieppe, Alistair & Dizioli, Allan Gloe, 2017. "Why should the world care? Analysis, mechanisms and spillovers of the destination based border adjusted tax," Working Paper Series 2093, European Central Bank.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    border tax adjustment; neutrality; equivalence; exchange rate appreciation; nominal price and wage rigidities;

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • F11 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Neoclassical Models of Trade
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H87 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - International Fiscal Issues; International Public Goods

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