IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/bss/wpaper/19.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Fiscal Federalism and Tax Equalization: The potential for progressive local taxes

Author

Listed:
  • Debra Hevenstone

    ()

  • Ben Jann

    ()

Abstract

We construct an empirically informed computational model of fiscal federalism, testing whether horizontal or vertical equalization can solve the fiscal externality problem in an environment in which heterogeneous agents can move and vote. The model expands on the literature by considering the case of progressive local taxation. Although the consequences of progressive taxation under fiscal federalism are well understood, they have not been studied in a context with tax equalization, despite widespread implementation. The model also expands on the literature by comparing the standard median voter model with a realistic alternative voting mechanism. We find that fiscal federalism with progressive taxation naturally leads to segregation as well as inefficient and inequitable public goods provision while the alternative voting mechanism generates more efficient, though less equitable, public goods provision. Equalization policy, under both types of voting, is largely undermined by micro-actors' choices. For this reason, the model also does not find the anticipated effects of vertical equalization discouraging public goods spending among wealthy jurisdictions and horizontal encouraging it among poor jurisdictions. Finally, we identify two optimal scenarios, superior to both complete centralization and complete devolution. These scenarios are not only Pareto optimal, but also conform to a Rawlsian view of justice, offering the best possible outcome for the worst-off. Despite offering the best possible outcomes, both scenarios still entail significant economic segregation and inequitable public goods provision. Under the optimal scenarios agents shift the bulk of revenue collection to the federal government, with few jurisdictions maintaining a small local tax.

Suggested Citation

  • Debra Hevenstone & Ben Jann, 2016. "Fiscal Federalism and Tax Equalization: The potential for progressive local taxes," University of Bern Social Sciences Working Papers 19, University of Bern, Department of Social Sciences.
  • Handle: RePEc:bss:wpaper:19
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://boris.unibe.ch/81527/1/Hevenstone-Jann-2016.pdf
    File Function: working paper
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Nechyba, Thomas J, 1997. "Local Property and State Income Taxes: The Role of Interjurisdictional Competition and Collusion," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 351-384, April.
    2. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416-416.
    3. Wallace E. Oates, 2006. "On the Theory and Practice of Fiscal Decentralization," Working Papers 2006-05, University of Kentucky, Institute for Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations.
    4. Grossman, Philip J, 1994. "A Political Theory of Intergovernmental Grants," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 78(3-4), pages 295-303, March.
    5. de Bartolome, Charles A.M. & Ross, Stephen L., 2007. "Community income distributions in a metropolitan area," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 496-518, May.
    6. Hansjörg Blöchliger & Olaf Merk & Claire Charbit & Lee Mizell, 2007. "Fiscal Equalisation in OECD Countries," OECD Working Papers on Fiscal Federalism 4, OECD Publishing.
    7. Anke S. Kessler & Nico A. Hansen & Christian Lessmann, 2011. "Interregional Redistribution and Mobility in Federations: A Positive Approach," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(4), pages 1345-1378.
    8. Schmidheiny, Kurt, 2006. "Income segregation and local progressive taxation: Empirical evidence from Switzerland," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(3), pages 429-458, February.
    9. Nechyba, Thomas, 1996. "A computable general equilibrium model of intergovernmental aid," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 363-397, November.
    10. Robin Boadway & Anwar Shah, 2007. "Intergovernmental Fiscal Transfers : Principles and Practice," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7171, June.
    11. McDonald, James B, 1984. "Some Generalized Functions for the Size Distribution of Income," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 647-663, May.
    12. Feld, Lars P. & Kirchgassner, Gebhard, 2000. "Direct democracy, political culture, and the outcome of economic policy: a report on the Swiss experience," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 287-306, June.
    13. Stephen M. Calabrese & Dennis N. Epple & Richard E. Romano, 2012. "Inefficiencies from Metropolitan Political and Fiscal Decentralization: Failures of Tiebout Competition," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(3), pages 1081-1111.
    14. Maria Marta Ferreyra, 2009. "An Empirical Framework for Large-Scale Policy Analysis, with an Application to School Finance Reform in Michigan," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 147-180, February.
    15. Zeng, Dao-Zhi, 2008. "New economic geography with heterogeneous preferences: An explanation of segregation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 306-324, January.
    16. Stolle, Dietlind & Hooghe, Marc, 2009. "Shifting inequalities? Patterns of exclusion and inclusion in emerging forms of political participation," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Inequality and Social Integration SP I 2009-204, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    17. Salem, A B Z & Mount, T D, 1974. "A Convenient Descriptive Model of Income Distribution: The Gamma Density," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(6), pages 1115-1127, November.
    18. Brennan,Geoffrey & Buchanan,James M., 2006. "The Power to Tax," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521027922, December.
    19. Steven A. Meyer & Shigeto Naka, 1999. "The Determinants Of Japanese Local‐Benefit Seeking," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 17(1), pages 87-96, January.
    20. Richard Abel Musgrave, 1939. "The Voluntary Exchange Theory of Public Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(2), pages 213-237.
    21. Inman, Robert P. & Rubinfeld, Daniel L., 1996. "Designing tax policy in federalist economies: An overview," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 307-334, June.
    22. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 2003. "Centralized versus decentralized provision of local public goods: a political economy approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(12), pages 2611-2637, December.
    23. Rodden, Jonathan, 2003. "Reviving Leviathan: Fiscal Federalism and the Growth of Government," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 57(4), pages 695-729, October.
    24. Milanovic, Branko, 2000. "The median-voter hypothesis, income inequality, and income redistribution: an empirical test with the required data," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 367-410, September.
    25. Aaron, Henry & McGuire, Martin, 1970. "Public Goods and Income Distribution," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 38(6), pages 907-920, November.
    26. Eckhard Wurzel, 2003. "Consolidating Germany's Finances: Issues in Public Sector Spending Reform," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 366, OECD Publishing.
    27. Kessler, Anke S. & Lulfesmann, Christoph, 2005. "Tiebout and redistribution in a model of residential and political choice," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 501-528, February.
    28. H. Spencer Banzhaf & Randall P. Walsh, 2008. "Do People Vote with Their Feet? An Empirical Test of Tiebout," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 843-863, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Brülhart, Marius & Bucovetsky, Sam & Schmidheiny, Kurt, 2015. "Taxes in Cities," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: Gilles Duranton & J. V. Henderson & William C. Strange (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 0, pages 1123-1196, Elsevier.
    2. Sigrid Roehrs & David Stadelmann, 2010. "Mobility and local income redistribution," Working Papers 2010/4, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    3. Lars Feld, 2014. "James Buchanan’s theory of federalism: from fiscal equity to the ideal political order," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 231-252, September.
    4. Reingewertz, Yaniv, 2014. "Fiscal Decentralization - a Survey of the Empirical Literature," MPRA Paper 59889, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Dennis Epple & Brett Gordon & Holger Sieg, 2010. "Drs. Muth And Mills Meet Dr. Tiebout: Integrating Location‐Specific Amenities Into Multi‐Community Equilibrium Models," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(1), pages 381-400, February.
    6. Sigrid Roehrs & David Stadelmann, 2010. "Mobility and local income redistribution," Working Papers 2010/4, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    7. Hills, Roderick, 2009. "Federalism and Public Choice," MPRA Paper 13625, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Robert P. Inman, 2008. "Federalism's Values and the Value of Federalism," NBER Working Papers 13735, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Christian A. L. Hilber, 2017. "The Economic Implications of House Price Capitalization: A Synthesis," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 45(2), pages 301-339, April.
    10. Nicolas Jannin & Aurélie Sotura, 2019. "This Town Ain't Big Enough? Quantifying Local Public Goods Spillovers," Working Papers halshs-02160251, HAL.
    11. Stefan Voigt, 2011. "Positive constitutional economics II—a survey of recent developments," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 146(1), pages 205-256, January.
    12. Christoph Basten & Maximilian Ehrlich & Andrea Lassmann, 2017. "Income Taxes, Sorting and the Costs of Housing: Evidence from Municipal Boundaries in Switzerland," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0(601), pages 653-687, May.
    13. Calabrese, Stephen & Epple, Dennis & Romano, Richard, 2015. "Majority choice of tax systems in single- and multi-jurisdictional economies," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 58-70.
    14. Thushyanthan Baskaran & Lars P. Feld & Jan Schnellenbach, 2014. "Fiscal Federalism, Decentralization and Economic Growth: Survey and Meta-Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 4985, CESifo.
    15. Gravel, Nicolas & Oddou, Rémy, 2014. "The segregative properties of endogenous jurisdiction formation with a land market," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 15-27.
    16. Christoph Basten & Maximilian von Ehrlich & Andrea Lassmann, 2014. "Income Taxes, Sorting, and the Costs of Housing," KOF Working papers 14-362, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
    17. Nicolas Jannin & Aurelie Sotura, 2020. "This Town Ain't Big Enough? Quantifying Public Good Spillovers," Working papers 796, Banque de France.
    18. Wallace Oates, 2005. "Toward A Second-Generation Theory of Fiscal Federalism," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 12(4), pages 349-373, August.
    19. Nicolas Jannin & Aurélie Sotura, 2019. "This Town Ain't Big Enough? Quantifying Local Public Goods Spillovers," PSE Working Papers halshs-02160251, HAL.
    20. Qiao, Mo & Ding, Siying & Liu, Yongzheng, 2019. "Fiscal decentralization and government size: The role of democracy," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 316-330.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fiscal Federalism; Equalization Grants; Computational Modeling; Tiebout Sorting; Theory of Justice; Multi-community model;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C63 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Computational Techniques
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bss:wpaper:19. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Ben Jann). General contact details of provider: http://www.sowi.unibe.ch/ .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.