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Vertical and Horizontal Redistributions from a Carbon Tax and Rebate

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  • Julie-Anne Cronin
  • Don Fullerton
  • Steven Sexton

Abstract

Because electricity is a higher fraction of spending for those with low income, carbon taxes are believed to be regressive. Many argue, however, that their revenues can be used to offset the regressivity. We assess these claims by employing data on 322,000 families in the U.S. Treasury’s Distribution Model to study vertical redistributions between rich and poor, as well as horizontal redistributions among families with common incomes but heterogeneous energy intensity of consumption (different home heating and cooling demands). Accounting for the statutory indexing of transfers, and measuring impacts on annual consumption as a proxy for permanent income, we find that the carbon tax burden is progressive, rising across deciles as a fraction of consumption. The rebate of revenue via transfers makes it even more progressive. In every decile, the standard deviation of the change in consumption as a fraction of consumption varies around 1% or 2% and is larger than the average burden (about 0.7%). When existing transfer programs are used to rebate revenue, the tax and rebate together increase that variation to more than 3% within each decile. The average family in the poorest decile gets a net tax cut of about 1% of consumption, but 44% of them get a net tax increase. Relative to no rebate, every type of rebate we consider increases this variation within most deciles.

Suggested Citation

  • Julie-Anne Cronin & Don Fullerton & Steven Sexton, 2017. "Vertical and Horizontal Redistributions from a Carbon Tax and Rebate," CESifo Working Paper Series 6373, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_6373
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    Cited by:

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    2. Fremstad, Anders & Paul, Mark, 2019. "The Impact of a Carbon Tax on Inequality," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 163(C), pages 88-97.
    3. Goulder, Lawrence H. & Hafstead, Marc A.C. & Kim, GyuRim & Long, Xianling, 2019. "Impacts of a carbon tax across US household income groups: What are the equity-efficiency trade-offs?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 175(C), pages 44-64.
    4. de Bruin, Kelly & Yakut, Aykut Mert, 2018. "The economic and environmental impacts of increasing the Irish carbon tax," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number RS79.
    5. Martin C. Hänsel & Max Franks & Matthias Kalkuhl & Ottmar Edenhofer, 2021. "Optimal Carbon Taxation and Horizontal Equity: A Welfare-Theoretic Approach with Application to German Household Data," CESifo Working Paper Series 8931, CESifo.
    6. Hasan, Syed Abul & Mozumder, Pallab, 2017. "Income and energy use in Bangladesh: A household level analysis," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 115-126.
    7. Thomas Douenne, 2018. "The vertical and horizontal distributive effects of energy taxes," Policy Papers 2018.05, FAERE - French Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.
    8. Umed Temursho & Matthias Weitzel & Toon Vandyck, 2020. "Distributional impacts of reaching ambitious near-term climate targets across households with heterogeneous consumption patterns: A quantitative macro-micro assessment for the 2030 Climate Target Plan," JRC Working Papers JRC121765, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    9. Justin Caron & Jefferson Cole & Richard Goettle & Chikara Onda & James Mcfarland & Jared Woollacott, 2018. "Distributional Implications Of A National Co2 Tax In The U.S. Across Income Classes And Regions: A Multi-Model Overview," Climate Change Economics (CCE), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 9(01), pages 1-32, February.
    10. Berry, Audrey, 2019. "The distributional effects of a carbon tax and its impact on fuel poverty: A microsimulation study in the French context," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 81-94.
    11. Rashid Khan, Haroon Ur & Zaman, Khalid & Usman, Bushra & Nassani, Abdelmohsen A. & Aldakhil, Abdullah Mohammed & Qazi Abro, Muhammad Moinuddin, 2019. "Financial management of natural resource market: Long-run and inter-temporal (forecast) relationship," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 1-1.
    12. Audrey Berry, 2018. "Compensating households from carbon tax regressivity and fuel poverty: a microsimulation study," Working Papers hal-01691088, HAL.
    13. Moz-Christofoletti, Maria Alice & Pereda, Paula Carvalho, 2021. "Winners and losers: the distributional impacts of a carbon tax in Brazil," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 183(C).
    14. Audrey Berry, 2017. "Compensating households from carbon tax regressivity and fuel poverty: a microsimulation study," Policy Papers 2017.08, FAERE - French Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.
    15. Maria Alice Moz-Christofoletti & Paula Carvalho Pereda, 2021. "Winners and losers: the distributional impact of a carbon tax in Brazil," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2021_08, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).
    16. Don Fullerton & Erich Muehlegger, 2017. "Who Bears the Economic Costs of Environmental Regulations?," CESifo Working Paper Series 6596, CESifo.
    17. Abrell, Jan & Rausch, Sebastian & Schwarz, Giacomo A., 2018. "How robust is the uniform emissions pricing rule to social equity concerns?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 783-814.
    18. Justin Caron & Stuart M. Cohen & Maxwell Brown & John M. Reilly, 2018. "Exploring The Impacts Of A National U.S. Co2 Tax And Revenue Recycling Options With A Coupled Electricity-Economy Model," Climate Change Economics (CCE), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 9(01), pages 1-40, February.
    19. Ma, Ning & Li, Huajiao & Zhang, Jinwei & Han, Xiaodan & Feng, Sida & Arif, Asma, 2021. "The short-term price effects and transmission mechanism of CO2 cost pass-through in China: A partial transmission model," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 70(C).
    20. Boyce, James K., 2018. "Carbon Pricing: Effectiveness and Equity," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 52-61.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    incidence; climate policy; revenue-neutral reform;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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