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Why Countries Compete in Ad Valorem Instead of Unit Capital Taxes

  • Magnus Hoffmann
  • Marco Runkel

This paper contributes to resolving the puzzle that in practice most countries use ad valorem (corporate income) taxation, while a large part of the tax competition literature views business taxes as unit (wealth) taxation. We point to the dual role corporate taxation plays in attracting mobile capital, on the one hand, and in absorbing economic rents, on the other hand. In contrast to the previous literature, we show (i) that detrimental tax competition may be less severe in a system of ad valorem taxes than in a system of unit taxes and (ii) that ad valorem taxation may be the equilibrium outcome in a decentralized world where countries decide themselves on the tax system. Interestingly, the decentralized choice of the ad valorem system may be a prisoner’s dilemma since the countries’ welfare may be higher if they choose unit taxes.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2012/wp-cesifo-2012-07/cesifo1_wp3893.pdf
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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3893.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3893
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  1. Simon P. Anderson & Andre de Palma & Brent Kreider, 2000. "Tax Incidence in Differentiated Product Oligopoly," Virginia Economics Online Papers 341, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  2. Nobuo Akai & Hikaru Ogawa & Yoshitomo Ogawa, 2011. "Endogenous choice on tax instruments in a tax competition model: unit tax versus ad valorem tax," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 18(5), pages 495-506, October.
  3. Nobuo Akai & Hikaru Ogawa & Yoshitomo Ogawa, 2010. "Endogenous Choice on Tax Instruments in a Tax Competition Model: Unit Tax versus Ad Valorem Tax," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 10-01, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP).
  4. Zodrow, George R. & Mieszkowski, Peter, 1986. "Pigou, Tiebout, property taxation, and the underprovision of local public goods," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 356-370, May.
  5. Bucovetsky, S., 1991. "Asymmetric tax competition," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 167-181, September.
  6. Wilson, John Douglas, 1999. "Theories of Tax Competition," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 2), pages 269-304, June.
  7. Skeath, Susan E. & Trandel, Gregory A., 1994. "A Pareto comparison of ad valorem and unit taxes in noncompetitive environments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 53-71, January.
  8. Wilson, John Douglas & Wildasin, David E., 2004. "Capital tax competition: bane or boon," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(6), pages 1065-1091, June.
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