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How should Financial Intermediation Services be Taxed?

  • Benjamin Lockwood

This paper considers the optimal taxation of savings intermediation and payment services in a dynamic general equilibrium setting, when the government can also use consumption and income taxes. When payment services are used in strict proportion to final consumption, and the cost of intermediation services is fixed and the same across firms, the optimal taxes are generally indeterminate. But, when firms differ exogenously in the cost of intermediation services, the tax on savings intermediation should be zero. Also, when household time and payment services are substitutes in transactions, the optimal tax rate on payment services is determined by the returns to scale in the conditional demand for payment services, and is generally different to the optimal rate on consumption goods. In particular, with constant returns to scale, payment services should be untaxed. These results can be understood as applications of the Diamond-Mirrlees production efficiency theorem. Finally, as an extension, we endogenize intermediation, in the form of monitoring, and show that it may be oversupplied in equilibrium when banks have monopoly power, justifying a Pigouvian tax in this case.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3226.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3226
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  1. Enrique Mendoza & Javier Bianchi, 2010. "Overborrowing, financial crises and ‘macro-prudential’ taxes," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Oct.
  2. Diamond, Douglas W, 1991. "Monitoring and Reputation: The Choice between Bank Loans and Directly Placed Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 689-721, August.
  3. Mikhail Golosov & Narayana Kocherlakota & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2003. "Optimal Indirect and Capital Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(3), pages 569-587, 07.
  4. Faig, Miquel, 1988. "Characterization of the optimal tax on money when it functions as a medium of exchange," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 137-148, July.
  5. Christopher Phelan & Ennio Stacchetti, 2001. "Sequential Equilibria in a Ramsey Tax Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(6), pages 1491-1518, November.
  6. Bengt Holmstrom & Jean Tirole, 1994. "Financial Intermediation, Loanable Funds and the Real Sector," Working papers 95-1, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  7. Brown, Martin & Jappelli, Tullio & Pagano, Marco, 2008. "Information Sharing and Credit: Firm-Level Evidence from Transition Countries," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Zurich 2008 3, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
  8. Isabel Correia & Pedro Teles, 1999. "The Optimal Inflation Tax," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(2), pages 325-346, April.
  9. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-22, May.
  10. Poddar, Satya & English, Morley, 1997. "Taxation of Financial Services Under a Value-Added Tax: Applying the Cash-Flow Approach," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 50(1), pages 89-111, March.
  11. Diamond, Douglas W & Dybvig, Philip H, 1983. "Bank Runs, Deposit Insurance, and Liquidity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(3), pages 401-19, June.
  12. Berger, Allen N & Udell, Gregory F, 1995. "Relationship Lending and Lines of Credit in Small Firm Finance," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 68(3), pages 351-81, July.
  13. Kevin C. Murdock & Thomas F. Hellmann & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2000. "Liberalization, Moral Hazard in Banking, and Prudential Regulation: Are Capital Requirements Enough?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 147-165, March.
  14. Besanko, David & Kanatas, George, 1993. "Credit Market Equilibrium with Bank Monitoring and Moral Hazard," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 6(1), pages 213-32.
  15. Jack, W., 1998. "The Treatment of Financial Services Under a Broad-Based Consumption Tax," CEPR Discussion Papers 394, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  16. Correia, Isabel H., 1996. "Should capital income be taxed in the steady state?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 147-151, April.
  17. Andrew Atkeson & V.V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1999. "Taxing capital income: a bad idea," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sum, pages 3-17.
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