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Reinventing the Dutch tax-benefit system; exploring the frontier of the equity-efficiency trade-off

European governments aim to raise labour supply, cut unemployment and, at the same time, maintain social cohesion. Yet, economists have stressed the trade-off between these objectives. This paper reviews the key policy insights from optimal tax theory to identify options for reform in the tax-benefit system that can potentially improve the equity-efficiency trade-off. Using a comprehensive applied general equilibrium model, we then explore whether reforms along these lines in the actual Dutch tax-benefit system will raise employment without sacrificing equality. The analysis reveals that selective tax relief for elastic secondary earners and low-skilled workers have this potential. A flat income tax structure possibly combined with a negative income tax worsens the equity-efficiency trade-off.

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Paper provided by CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis in its series CPB Discussion Paper with number 88.

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Date of creation: Sep 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpb:discus:88
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  20. Peter Sørensen, 2007. "The theory of optimal taxation: what is the policy relevance?," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 383-406, August.
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