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The Efficiency Consequences of Local Revenue Equalization: Tax Competition and Tax Distortions

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  • Sam Bucovetsky
  • Michael Smart

Abstract

This paper shows how a popular system of federal revenue equalization grants can limit tax competition among subnational governments, correct fiscal externalities, and increase government spending. Remarkably, an equalization grant can implement efficient policy choices by regional governments, regardless of a wide variety of differences in regional tax capacity, tastes for public spending, and population. Thus, compared to other corrective devices, equalization achieves “robust” implementation. If aggregate tax bases are elastic, however, equalization leads to excessive taxation. Efficiency can be achieved by a modified formula that equalizes a fraction of local revenue deficiencies equal to the fraction of taxes that are shifted backward to factor suppliers.

Suggested Citation

  • Sam Bucovetsky & Michael Smart, 2002. "The Efficiency Consequences of Local Revenue Equalization: Tax Competition and Tax Distortions," CESifo Working Paper Series 767, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_767
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    1. Heizt der Finanzausgleich den Steuerwettbewerb an?
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    Cited by:

    1. Jean Hindriks & Gareth D. Myles, 2003. "Strategic Inter–Regional Transfers," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 5(2), pages 229-248, April.
    2. Plachta, Robert C., 2008. "Fiscal Equalisation and the Soft Budget Constraint," FiFo Discussion Papers - Finanzwissenschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge 08-8, University of Cologne, FiFo Institute for Public Economics.
    3. Thiess Buettner & Robert Schwager & Sebastian Hauptmeier, 2011. "Efficient Revenue Sharing and Upper-Level Governments: Theory and Application to Germany," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 167(4), pages 647-667, December.
    4. Edmark, Karin & Ågren, Hanna, 2008. "Identifying strategic interactions in Swedish local income tax policies," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 849-857, May.
    5. Diego Martínez López, 2005. "On states’ behavior with equalization grants," Hacienda Pública Española / Review of Public Economics, IEF, vol. 174(3), pages 43-54, September.
    6. Elschner, Christina & Lammersen, Lothar & Overesch, Michael & Schwager, Robert, 2005. "The Effective Tax Burden of Companies and on Highly Skilled Manpower: Tax Policy Strategies in a Globalized Economy," ZEW Discussion Papers 05-31, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    7. Robin Boadway & Jean-Francois Tremblay, 2005. "A Theory of Vertical Fiscal Imbalance," Working Papers 2006-04, University of Kentucky, Institute for Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations.
    8. Bev Dahlby & Neil Warren, 2003. "Fiscal Incentive Effects of the Australian Equalisation System," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 79(247), pages 434-445, December.
    9. Mintz, Jack & Smart, Michael, 2004. "Income shifting, investment, and tax competition: theory and evidence from provincial taxation in Canada," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(6), pages 1149-1168, June.
    10. Buettner, Thiess, 2006. "The incentive effect of fiscal equalization transfers on tax policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(3), pages 477-497, February.
    11. Leonzio Rizzo, 2006. "Le inefficienze della competizione fiscale: una rassegna dei principali modelli teorici," Economia politica, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 1, pages 89-120.
    12. Thiess Büttner, 2006. "Steuerwettbewerb und Finanzausgleich," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 59(04), pages 12-28, February.
    13. 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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