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On the Possibility and Desirability of Taxing E-Commerce


  • Bo Sandemann Rasmussen

    () (Department of Economics, University of Aarhus, Denmark)


Over the past decade the taxation of e-commerce has been widely discussed among politicians, tax law experts and economists. To put some perspective on this issue it is analyzed to what extent e-commerce can actually be taxed and the severity of the ensuing tax revenue losses following from future growth of e-commerce is discussed. Since the US and the EU cases differ substantially they are considered separately. Subsequently various arguments supporting the view that e-commerce should receive preferential tax treatment are considered. Although no firm recommendations can be provided some interesting topics for future research are suggested.

Suggested Citation

  • Bo Sandemann Rasmussen, 2004. "On the Possibility and Desirability of Taxing E-Commerce," Economics Working Papers 2004-8, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
  • Handle: RePEc:aah:aarhec:2004-8

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Austan Goolsbee, 2000. "In a World Without Borders: The Impact of Taxes on Internet Commerce," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 561-576.
    2. Donald Bruce & William Fox & Matthew Murray, 2003. "To Tax Or Not To Tax? The Case Of Electronic Commerce," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 21(1), pages 25-40, January.
    3. Myles,Gareth D., 1995. "Public Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521497695, March.
    4. Goolsbee, Austan & Zittrain, Jonathan, 1999. "Evaluating the Costs and Benefits of Taxing Internet Commerce," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(3), pages 413-428, September.
    5. Peter A. Diamond & J. A. Mirrlees, 1968. "Optimal Taxation and Public Production," Working papers 22, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    6. Zodrow, George R, 2003. "Network Externalities and Indirect Tax Preferences for Electronic Commerce," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 10(1), pages 79-97, January.
    7. Goolsbee, Austan & Zittrain, Jonathan, 1999. "Evaluating the Costs and Benefits of Taxing Internet Commerce," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 3), pages 413-28, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tehmina S. Khan & John Norregaard, 2007. "Tax Policy; Recent Trends and Coming Challenges," IMF Working Papers 07/274, International Monetary Fund.
    2. Bo Sandemann Rasmussen, 2004. "Preferential Taxation of E-Commerce: Imperfectly Competitive Retail Markets and Trade Costs," Economics Working Papers 2004-9, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.

    More about this item


    E-commerce; commodity taxation; tax principles; revenue loss; preferential tax treatment; auditing;

    JEL classification:

    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • L12 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Monopoly; Monopolization Strategies
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations

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