IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/ces/ceswps/_10038.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

How Should Consumption Be Taxed?

Author

Listed:
  • Spencer Bastani
  • Sebastian Koehne

Abstract

We review the theoretical justification of consumption taxes in advanced economies, providing a systematic overview of the vast public finance literature exploring how goods and services should be taxed. Our discussion focuses on both the determinants of the optimal level of consumption taxation in relation to other taxes, as well as the optimal differentiation of taxes across goods and services. We blend classical public finance results, recent developments in the optimal tax literature, as well as practical considerations. The purpose is to provide guidance to academics and policymakers about the key trade-offs in consumption taxation as well as point out important areas where more research is needed.

Suggested Citation

  • Spencer Bastani & Sebastian Koehne, 2022. "How Should Consumption Be Taxed?," CESifo Working Paper Series 10038, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_10038
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.cesifo.org/DocDL/cesifo1_wp10038.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. W. J. Corlett & D. C. Hague, 1953. "Complementarity and the Excess Burden of Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(1), pages 21-30.
    2. Peter Diamond & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "The Case for a Progressive Tax: From Basic Research to Policy Recommendations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 165-190, Fall.
    3. Gordon, Roger H. & Kopczuk, Wojciech, 2014. "The choice of the personal income tax base," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 97-110.
    4. Sebastian Koehne, 2018. "On The Taxation Of Durable Goods," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 59(2), pages 825-857, May.
    5. Nicola Borri & Pietro Reichlin, 2021. "Optimal Taxation with Home Ownership and Wealth Inequality," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 40, pages 64-84, April.
    6. N. Gregory Mankiw & Matthew Weinzierl & Danny Yagan, 2009. "Optimal Taxation in Theory and Practice," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(4), pages 147-174, Fall.
    7. Mark Colas & Sebastian Findeisen & Dominik Sachs, 2021. "Optimal Need-Based Financial Aid," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 129(2), pages 492-533.
    8. Olovsson, Conny, 2015. "Optimal taxation with home production," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 39-50.
    9. Nakajima, Makoto, 2020. "Capital income taxation with housing," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 115(C).
    10. Bohacek, Radim & Kapicka, Marek, 2008. "Optimal human capital policies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 1-16, January.
    11. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 2001. "Direct versus Indirect Taxation: The Design of the Tax Structure Revisted," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(3), pages 781-799, August.
    12. Helmuth Cremer & Pierre Pestieau, 2014. "Social long-term care insurance and redistribution," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 21(6), pages 955-974, December.
    13. Gauthier, Stéphane & Laroque, Guy, 2009. "Separability and public finance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(11-12), pages 1168-1174, December.
    14. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 2003. "Capital income taxation when inherited wealth is not observable," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(11), pages 2475-2490, October.
    15. Marek Kapička & Julian Neira, 2019. "Optimal Taxation with Risky Human Capital," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 11(4), pages 271-309, October.
    16. (IFS), Institute for Fiscal Studies & Mirrlees, James (ed.), 2011. "Tax By Design: The Mirrlees Review," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199553747.
    17. Martin Feldstein, 2002. "Commentary : Is there a role for discretionary fiscal policy?," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 151-162.
    18. Cremer, Helmuth & Roeder, Kerstin, 2013. "Long-term care policy, myopia and redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 33-43.
    19. Krusell, Per & Quadrini, Vincenzo & Rios-Rull, Jose-Victor, 1996. "Are consumption taxes really better than income taxes?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 475-503, June.
    20. Nicola Borri & Pietro Reichlin, 2021. "Optimal Taxation with Home Ownership and Wealth Inequality," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 40, pages 64-84, April.
    21. Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "The desirability of commodity taxation under non-linear income taxation and heterogeneous tastes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 217-230, February.
    22. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz, 2015. "Atkinson and Stiglitz theorem in the presence of a household production sector," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 91-95.
    23. Koehne, Sebastian & Sachs, Dominik, 2022. "Pareto-improving reforms of tax deductions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 148(C).
    24. Ahsan, Syed M., 1989. "Choice of tax base under uncertainty : Consumption or income?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 99-134, October.
    25. J. A. Mirrlees, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 175-208.
    26. Sören Blomquist & Vidar Christiansen, 2008. "Taxation and Heterogeneous Preferences," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 64(2), pages 218-244, June.
    27. Aart Gerritsen & Bas Jacobs & Alexandra V. Rusu & Kevin Spiritus, 2020. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income with Heterogeneous Rates of Return," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 20-038/VI, Tinbergen Institute.
    28. Spencer Bastani & Sören Blomquist & Luca Micheletto, 2020. "Child Care Subsidies, Quality, and Optimal Income Taxation," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 1-37, November.
    29. Conesa, Juan Carlos & Li, Bo & Li, Qian, 2020. "Welfare implications of switching to consumption taxation," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 120(C).
    30. Andreas Fagereng & Luigi Guiso & Davide Malacrino & Luigi Pistaferri, 2020. "Heterogeneity and Persistence in Returns to Wealth," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 88(1), pages 115-170, January.
    31. David Altig, 2001. "Simulating Fundamental Tax Reform in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 574-595, June.
    32. Lans Bovenberg, A. & Jacobs, Bas, 2005. "Redistribution and education subsidies are Siamese twins," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(11-12), pages 2005-2035, December.
    33. Pearce, David W, 1991. "The Role of Carbon Taxes in Adjusting to Global Warming," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(407), pages 938-948, July.
    34. Benjamin Lockwood & Hunt Allcott & Dmitry Taubinsky & Afras Y. Sial, 2021. "What Drives Demand for State-Run Lotteries? Evidence and Welfare Implications," NBER Working Papers 28975, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    35. Christiansen, Vidar, 1984. "Which commodity taxes should supplement the income tax?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 195-220, July.
    36. Naito, Hisahiro, 1999. "Re-examination of uniform commodity taxes under a non-linear income tax system and its implication for production efficiency," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 165-188, February.
    37. Jonathan R. Kesselman, 1993. "Evasion Effects of Changing the Tax Mix," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 69(2), pages 131-148, June.
    38. Kleven, Henrik Jacobsen & Richter, Wolfram F & Sorensen, Peter Birch, 2000. "Optimal Taxation with Household Production," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(3), pages 584-594, July.
    39. Allcott, Hunt & Mullainathan, Sendhil & Taubinsky, Dmitry, 2014. "Energy policy with externalities and internalities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 72-88.
    40. Hunt Allcott & Benjamin B Lockwood & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2019. "Regressive Sin Taxes, with an Application to the Optimal Soda Tax," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 134(3), pages 1557-1626.
    41. Bas Jacobs, 2013. "From Optimal Tax Theory to Applied Tax Policy," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 69(3), pages 338-389, September.
    42. Louis Kaplow, 2022. "Optimal Income Taxation," NBER Working Papers 30199, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    43. Stefanie Stantcheva, 2017. "Optimal Taxation and Human Capital Policies over the Life Cycle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 125(6), pages 1931-1990.
    44. Kaplow, Louis, 1994. "Taxation and Risk Taking: A General Equilibrium Perspective," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 47(4), pages 789-98, December.
    45. Golosov, Mikhail & Troshkin, Maxim & Tsyvinski, Aleh & Weinzierl, Matthew, 2013. "Preference heterogeneity and optimal capital income taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 160-175.
    46. Gauthier, Stéphane & Henriet, Fanny, 2018. "Commodity taxes and taste heterogeneity," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 284-296.
    47. Essi Eerola & Niku Määttänen, 2013. "The Optimal Tax Treatment of Housing Capital in the Neoclassical Growth Model," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 15(6), pages 912-938, December.
    48. Youssef Benzarti & Dorian Carloni & Jarkko Harju & Tuomas Kosonen, 2020. "What Goes Up May Not Come Down: Asymmetric Incidence of Value-Added Taxes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 128(12), pages 4438-4474.
    49. Syed M. Ahsan, 1990. "Risk-Taking, Savings, and Taxation: A Re-examination of Theory and Policy," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 23(2), pages 408-433, May.
    50. Katrine V. Løken & Shelly Lundberg & Julie Riise, 2017. "Lifting the Burden: Formal Care of the Elderly and Labor Supply of Adult Children," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 52(1), pages 247-271.
    51. Partha Dasgupta & Joseph Stiglitz, 1972. "On Optimal Taxation and Public Production," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 39(1), pages 87-103.
    52. Kesselman, Jonathan R, 1993. "Evasion Effects of Changing the Tax Mix," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 69(205), pages 131-148, June.
    53. Persson, Mats, 1995. " Why Are Taxes So High in Egalitarian Societies?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(4), pages 569-580, December.
    54. Hunt Allcott & Benjamin B. Lockwood & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2019. "Should We Tax Sugar-Sweetened Beverages? An Overview of Theory and Evidence," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 33(3), pages 202-227, Summer.
    55. Syed Ahsan & Peter Tsigaris, 1998. "The design of a consumption tax under capital risk," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 68(1), pages 53-78, February.
    56. Wolfram F. Richter & Robin W. Boadway, 2005. "Trading Off Tax Distortion and Tax Evasion," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 7(3), pages 361-381, August.
    57. Selin, Håkan & Simula, Laurent, 2020. "Income shifting as income creation?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 182(C).
    58. Harju, Jarkko & Kosonen, Tuomas & Skans, Oskar Nordström, 2018. "Firm types, price-setting strategies, and consumption-tax incidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 165(C), pages 48-72.
    59. Findeisen, Sebastian & Sachs, Dominik, 2016. "Education and optimal dynamic taxation: The role of income-contingent student loans," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 1-21.
    60. Kaplow Louis, 2008. "Optimal Policy with Heterogeneous Preferences," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-30, September.
    61. Christiansen,Vidar & Smith,Stephen, 2021. "Economic Principles of Commodity Taxation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781009002028.
    62. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1976. "The design of tax structure: Direct versus indirect taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 55-75.
    63. Jacobs, Bas & Boadway, Robin, 2014. "Optimal linear commodity taxation under optimal non-linear income taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 201-210.
    64. Dan Anderberg & Alessandro Balestrino, 2000. "Household Production and the Design of the Tax Structure," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 7(4), pages 563-584, August.
    65. Diamond, P. A., 1975. "A many-person Ramsey tax rule," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 335-342, November.
    66. Gordon, Roger H. & Bo Nielsen, Soren, 1997. "Tax evasion in an open economy:: Value-added vs. income taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 173-197, November.
    67. Diamond, Peter A & Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "Optimal Taxation and Public Production II: Tax Rules," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(3), pages 261-278, June.
    68. Bethany Millar-Powell & Bert Brys & Pierce O’Reilly & Yannic Rehm & Alastair Thomas, 2022. "Measuring effective taxation of housing: Building the foundations for policy reform," OECD Taxation Working Papers 56, OECD Publishing.
    69. Kaplow, Louis, 1994. "Taxation and Risk Taking: A General Equilibrium Perspective," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 47(4), pages 789-798, December.
    70. Deaton, Angus, 1979. "Optimally uniform commodity taxes," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 357-361.
    71. Peter Diamond & Johannes Spinnewijn, 2011. "Capital Income Taxes with Heterogeneous Discount Rates," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 52-76, November.
    72. Louis Kaplow, 2008. "Optimal Policy with Heterogeneous Preferences," NBER Working Papers 14170, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    73. Diamond, Peter A & Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "Optimal Taxation and Public Production: I--Production Efficiency," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(1), pages 8-27, March.
    74. Jukka Pirttilä & Matti Tuomala, 1997. "Income Tax, Commodity Tax and Environmental Policy," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 4(3), pages 379-393, July.
    75. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2005. "How much do we care about absolute versus relative income and consumption?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 405-421, March.
    76. Aronsson, Thomas & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2008. "When the Joneses' consumption hurts: Optimal public good provision and nonlinear income taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 986-997, June.
    77. Christine Ho & Nicola Pavoni, 2020. "Efficient Child Care Subsidies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 110(1), pages 162-199, January.
    78. George R. Zodrow, 2019. "Taxation, Uncertainty and the Choice of a Consumption Tax Base," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: George R Zodrow (ed.), TAXATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE Selected Essays of George R. Zodrow, chapter 8, pages 227-237, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    79. Spencer Bastani & Daniel Waldenström, 2020. "How Should Capital Be Taxed?," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(4), pages 812-846, September.
    80. Gahvari, Firouz & Micheletto, Luca, 2016. "Capital income taxation and the Atkinson–Stiglitz theorem," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 86-89.
    81. Robert H. Frank, 2016. "Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 10663.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Spencer Bastani, 2023. "The Marginal Cost of Public Funds: A Brief Guide," CESifo Working Paper Series 10322, CESifo.

    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. Spencer Bastani & Daniel Waldenström, 2020. "How Should Capital Be Taxed?," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(4), pages 812-846, September.
    2. Antoine Ferey & Benjamin Lockwood & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2021. "Sufficient Statistics for Nonlinear Tax Systems with General Across-Income Heterogeneity," NBER Working Papers 29582, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Hellwig, Christian & Werquin, Nicolas, 2022. "A Fair Day's Pay for a Fair Day's Work: Optimal Tax Design as Redistributional Arbitrage," TSE Working Papers 22-1284, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Jan 2023.
    4. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 2018. "Pareto efficient taxation and expenditures: Pre- and re-distribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 101-119.
    5. OBARA, Takuya, 2018. "Optimal human capital policies under the endogenous choice of educational types," CCES Discussion Paper Series 66_v2, Center for Research on Contemporary Economic Systems, Graduate School of Economics, Hitotsubashi University.
    6. Spencer Bastani & Daniel Waldenström, 2018. "How should capital be taxed? The Swedish experience," Working Papers hal-02878153, HAL.
    7. Waldenstrom, Daniel & Bastani, Spencer, 2018. "How Should Capital Be Taxed? Theory and Evidence from Sweden," CEPR Discussion Papers 12880, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. OBARA, Takuya, 2017. "Optimal human capital policies under the endogenous choice of educational types," CCES Discussion Paper Series 66, Center for Research on Contemporary Economic Systems, Graduate School of Economics, Hitotsubashi University.
    9. Odd E. Nygård & John T. Revesz, 2015. "Optimal indirect taxation and the uniformity debate: A review of theoretical results and empirical contributions," Discussion Papers 809, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    10. Stéphane Gauthier & Fanny Henriet, 2015. "Many-Person Ramsey Rule and Nonlinear Income Taxation," Post-Print halshs-01164011, HAL.
    11. Bart Capéau & Alain Babatoundé & Romain Houssa, 2023. "Welfare Effects of Indirect Tax Policies in West Africa," Working Papers ECARES 2023-019, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    12. Jacobs, Bas & de Mooij, Ruud A., 2015. "Pigou meets Mirrlees: On the irrelevance of tax distortions for the second-best Pigouvian tax," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 90-108.
    13. Spencer Bastani & Firouz Gahvari & Luca Micheletto, 2022. "Nonlinear Taxation of Income and Education in the Presence of Income-Misreporting," CESifo Working Paper Series 9987, CESifo.
    14. Stéphane Gauthier & Fanny Henriet, 2016. "Consumption taxes and taste heterogeneity," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-01252563, HAL.
    15. Robin Boadway & Kevin Spiritus, 2021. "Optimal Taxation of Normal and Excess Returns to Risky Assets," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 21-025/VI, Tinbergen Institute.
    16. Koehne, Sebastian & Sachs, Dominik, 2022. "Pareto-improving reforms of tax deductions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 148(C).
    17. Francesca Parodi, 2023. "Taxation of Consumption and Labor Income: A Quantitative Approach," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 177-216, October.
    18. Gauthier, Stéphane & Henriet, Fanny, 2018. "Commodity taxes and taste heterogeneity," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 284-296.
    19. Bierbrauer Felix J., 2016. "Effizienz oder Gerechtigkeit?," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 17(1), pages 2-24, April.
    20. Louis Kaplow, 2020. "A Unified Perspective on Efficiency, Redistribution, and Public Policy," NBER Working Papers 26683, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    taxation; consumption; commodity; labor; capital; wealth;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies

    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:ces:ceswps:_10038. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    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 bibliographic 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.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Klaus Wohlrabe (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/cesifde.html .

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.