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Pigou Meets Mirrlees: On the Irrelevance of Tax Distortions for the Second-Best Pigouvian Tax

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  • Bas Jacobs
  • Ruud A. De Mooij

Abstract

This paper extends the Mirrlees (1971) model of optimal income redistribution with optimal corrective taxes to internalize consumption externalities. It is demonstrated that the optimal second-best tax on an externality-generating good should not be corrected for the marginal cost of public funds. The reason is that the marginal cost of public funds equals unity in the optimal tax system, since marginal distortions of taxation are equal to marginal distributional gains. The Pigouvian tax needs to be modified, however, if polluting commodities or environmental quality are more complementary to leisure than non-polluting commodities are.

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  • Bas Jacobs & Ruud A. De Mooij, 2011. "Pigou Meets Mirrlees: On the Irrelevance of Tax Distortions for the Second-Best Pigouvian Tax," CESifo Working Paper Series 3342, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3342
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    marginal cost of public funds; optimal environmental taxation; optimal redistribution; externalities;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies

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