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Minimum Standards, Fixed Costs and Taxing Autonomy of Subnational Governments

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  • Helmut Seitz

Abstract

The paper examines the question how fiscally strong and fiscally weak states respond to taxing autonomy at the state level, a subject that is currently under debate in Germany where states do have virtually no power to tax. We use a simple theoretical model that incorporates state surtaxes on the federal income tax bill taking into account fixed costs as well as minimum standards for the provision of public services. We show that both factors work in the direction of forcing fiscally weak states to collect higher surtaxes as compared to fiscally strong states. The empirical section presents evidence on the importance of fixed costs at the state level and calculates the distributional effects of taxing autonomy taking feedbacks of the fiscal equalization system into account. In addition simple estimates of the importance of spending on minimum standards are derived.

Suggested Citation

  • Helmut Seitz, 2008. "Minimum Standards, Fixed Costs and Taxing Autonomy of Subnational Governments," CESifo Working Paper Series 2341, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2341
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    1. Feld, Lars P, 2000. "Tax Competition and Income Redistribution: An Empirical Analysis for Switzerland," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 105(1-2), pages 125-164, October.
    2. Thomas Liebig & Alfonso Sousa-Poza, 2006. "The influence of taxes on migration: evidence from Switzerland," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(2), pages 235-252, March.
    3. Hoyt, William H., 1992. "Market power of large cities and policy differences in metropolitan areas," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 539-558, November.
    4. Michael Keen, 1998. "Vertical Tax Externalities in the Theory of Fiscal Federalism," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 45(3), pages 454-485, September.
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    6. Christian Baretti & Bernd Huber & Karl Lichtblau, 2002. "A Tax on Tax Revenue: The Incentive Effects of Equalizing Transfers: Evidence from Germany," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 9(6), pages 631-649, November.
    7. Feld, Lars P. & Kirchgassner, Gebhard, 2001. "Income tax competition at the State and Local Level in Switzerland," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2-3), pages 181-213, April.
    8. Isabelle Joumard & Per Mathis Kongsrud, 2003. "Fiscal Relations across Government Levels," OECD Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2003(1), pages 155-229.
    9. Michael J. Keen & Christos Kotsogiannis, 2002. "Does Federalism Lead to Excessively High Taxes?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 363-370, March.
    10. Baretti, Christian & Huber, Bernd & Lichtblau, Karl, 2002. "A Tax on Tax Revenue: The Incentive Effects of Equalizing Transfers: Evidence from Germany," Munich Reprints in Economics 20129, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    11. Kirchgassner, Gebhard & Pommerehne, Werner W., 1996. "Tax harmonization and tax competition in the European Union: Lessons from Switzerland," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 351-371, June.
    12. Büttner Thiess & Schwager Robert, 2003. "Länderautonomie in der Einkommensteuer: Konsequenzen eines Zuschlagsmodells / Income Tax Autonomy of German States: Reform Options and Consequences," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 223(5), pages 532-555, October.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    fiscal federalism; minimum standards; tax autonomy; fiscal equalization;

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H50 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - General
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue

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