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Commodity Tax Harmonization with Public Goods - An Alternative Perspective


  • Lockwood, Ben


This paper investigates whether it is possible to find Pareto-improving commodity tax reforms that harmonize taxes between two countries when governments supply public goods and thus have revenue requirements. To focus on the basic issues, we consider a Ricardian model of trade with elastic factor supply and two traded goods, and suppose that initial taxes are Nash equilibrium ones. This allows a complete characterization of the conditions under which Pareto-improving reforms exist using simple geometric arguments. These conditions are completely determined by: (i) the configuration of initial taxes across countries; and (ii) whether the two goods are substitutes or complements. An example suggests that harmonization is unlikely to be Pareto-improving if the revenue requirement is high, and the demand for imports relatively price elastic, in both countries. An alternative definition of harmonization, difference harmonization, which may yield Pareto-improvements under more general conditions, is proposed.

Suggested Citation

  • Lockwood, Ben, 1995. "Commodity Tax Harmonization with Public Goods - An Alternative Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 1304, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:1304

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    Commodity Tax Reform; Tax Harmonization;

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • H87 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - International Fiscal Issues; International Public Goods


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