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In Search of a Rationale for Differentiated Environmental Taxes

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  • Bohringer, Christoph

    (ZEW, Mannheim)

  • Thomas F Rutherford

Abstract

Environmental tax schemes in OECD countries often involve tax rates differentiated across industrial, commercial and household sectors. In this paper, we investigate four potentially important arguments for these deviations from uniform taxation: pre-existing tax distortions, domestic equity concerns, global environmental effectiveness, and strategic trade policy. Our primary objective is to ascertain whether the degree of tax differentiation observed in many countries can be rationalized on economic grounds. In simulations with a computable general equilibrium model, we calculate optimal policies under various settings. Our simulation results lead us to conclude that there is little economic rationale for the common policy practice of discriminating strongly in favor of heavy industries, even when accounting for interacting taxes, distributional concerns, leakage, and international market power.

Suggested Citation

  • Bohringer, Christoph & Thomas F Rutherford, 2003. "In Search of a Rationale for Differentiated Environmental Taxes," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 26, Royal Economic Society.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:ac2003:26
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bovenberg, A. L. & van der Ploeg, F., 1994. "Environmental policy, public finance and the labour market in a second-best world," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 349-390, November.
    2. Bovenberg, A Lans & Goulder, Lawrence H, 1996. "Optimal Environmental Taxation in the Presence of Other Taxes: General-Equilibrium Analyses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 985-1000, September.
    3. Krutilla, Kerry, 1991. "Environmental regulation in an open economy," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 127-142, March.
    4. Lawrence Goulder, 1995. "Environmental taxation and the double dividend: A reader's guide," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 2(2), pages 157-183, August.
    5. Bohringer, Christoph & Rutherford, Thomas F., 1997. "Carbon Taxes with Exemptions in an Open Economy: A General Equilibrium Analysis of the German Tax Initiative," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 189-203, February.
    6. Bovenberg, A.L. & Goulder, L.H., 1996. "Optimal environmental taxation in the presence of other taxes : General equilibrium analyses," Other publications TiSEM 5d4b7517-c5c8-4ef6-ab76-3, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    7. Christoph Bohringer, 2002. "Climate Politics from Kyoto to Bonn: From Little to Nothing?," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2), pages 51-71.
    8. Rauscher, Michael, 1994. "On Ecological Dumping," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(0), pages 822-840, Supplemen.
    9. Terkla, David, 1984. "The efficiency value of effluent tax revenues," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 107-123, June.
    10. Patrick J. Kehoe & Timothy J. Kehoe, 1994. "A primer on static applied general equilibrium models," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Spr, pages 2-16.
    11. Christoph Böhringer & Thomas Rutherford, 2002. "Carbon Abatement and International Spillovers," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 22(3), pages 391-417, July.
    12. Alm, James, 1996. "What Is an "Optimal'"Tax System?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 49(1), pages 117-33, March.
    13. Lawrence H. Goulder & Ian W. H. Parry & Dallas Burtraw, 1996. "Revenue-Raising vs. Other Approaches to Environmental Protection: The Critical Significance of Pre-Existing Tax Distortions," NBER Working Papers 5641, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. John Pezzey, 1992. "Analysis of Unilateral CO2 Control in the European Community and OECD," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 159-172.
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    Cited by:

    1. Otto, Vincent M. & Löschel, Andreas & Reilly, John, 2008. "Directed technical change and differentiation of climate policy," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 2855-2878, November.
    2. Anger, Niels & Böhringer, Christoph & Lange, Andreas, 2006. "Differentiation of Green Taxes: A Political-Economy Analysis for Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 06-003, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    optimal environmental taxation; computable geneal equilibrium;

    JEL classification:

    • C68 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Computable General Equilibrium Models
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • Q4 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy
    • R13 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General Equilibrium and Welfare Economic Analysis of Regional Economies

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