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A Positive Theory of Tax Reform

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  • Ilzetzki, Ethan

Abstract

The political impediments to reform and the forces allowing its success are studied in a model where the tax base and statutory rate are separate instruments of tax policy. The model predicts that big bang reforms—large changes in the tax code—may be easier to enact than marginal reforms. Preferences over the tax base face a tipping point where even the beneficiaries from tax exemptions support reform. At such a \reform moment", tax reform is Pareto improving. Politically feasible tax reform occurs when fiscal needs are large, but may nonetheless involve reductions in marginal tax rates. There is strategic complementary in lobbying for tax exemptions, resulting in multiple equilibria. Evidence from tax-base changes in a panel of OECD countries supports a number of the main predictions.

Suggested Citation

  • Ilzetzki, Ethan, 2015. "A Positive Theory of Tax Reform," CEPR Discussion Papers 10922, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10922
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Slemrod, Joel & Kopczuk, Wojciech, 2002. "The optimal elasticity of taxable income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 91-112, April.
    2. Laura Kawano & Joel Slemrod, 2012. "The Effect of Tax Rates and Tax Bases on Corporate Tax Revenues: Estimates with New Measures of the Corporate Tax Base," Working Papers 1219, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
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    7. Diego Restuccia & Richard Rogerson, 2013. "Misallocation and productivity," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 16(1), pages 1-10, January.
    8. Sanjay Jain & Sharun W. Mukand, 2003. "Redistributive Promises and the Adoption of Economic Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 256-264, March.
    9. Micael Castanheira & Gaëtan Nicodème & Paola Profeta, 2012. "On the political economics of tax reforms: survey and empirical assessment," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 19(4), pages 598-624, August.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance

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