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Fuel Tax Incidence and Supply Conditions

  • Marion, Justin

    (University of California, Santa Cruz)

  • Muehlegger, Erich

    (Harvard University)

In this paper, we provide new evidence regarding the pass-through of diesel and gasoline taxes to prices, and how the estimated pass-through depends on a variety of supply conditions including a measure of state residual supply elasticity, and refinery and inventory constraints. In addition, we estimate the response of tax incidence to gasoline content regulations, which complicate the supply chain by increasing product heterogeneity. We find that state gasoline and diesel taxes are on average fully passed on to consumers. We also find that the pass-through of diesel taxes is greater in settings where untaxed uses of diesel are more important, which corresponds to times when residual supply is more elastic. We find that only half of the state diesel tax is passed on to consumers when U.S. refinery capacity utilization is above 95 percent. Gasoline taxes, on the other hand, are fully passed through regardless of season or capacity utilization, indicating that a gas tax holiday would provide price relief to consumers. We find that regional gasoline content regulations affect pass-through--we estimate tax pass-through is 22 percentage points lower in a state using two blends of gasoline than a state using one blend of gasoline.

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Paper provided by Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in its series Working Paper Series with number rwp10-014.

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Date of creation: Apr 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp10-014
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  1. Justin Marion & Erich Muehlegger, 2008. "Measuring Illegal Activity and the Effects of Regulatory Innovation: Tax Evasion and the Dyeing of Untaxed Diesel," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(4), pages 633-666, 08.
  2. James B. Bushnell & Howard Chong & Erin T. Mansur, 2009. "Profiting from Regulation: An Event Study of the EU Carbon Market," NBER Working Papers 15572, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Hamilton, Stephen F., 1999. "Tax incidence under oligopoly: a comparison of policy approaches," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 233-245, February.
  4. Chernick, Howard & Reschovsky, Andrew, 1997. "Who Pays the Gasoline Tax?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 50(2), pages 233-59, June.
  5. Devereux, Michael P. & Lockwood, Ben & Redoano, Michela, 2004. "Horizontal and Vertical Indirect Tax Competition: Theory and Some Evidence From the USA," CEPR Discussion Papers 4470, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Joel Slemrod & Shlomo Yitzhaki, 2000. "Tax Avoidance, Evasion, and Administration," NBER Working Papers 7473, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Robert S. Pindyck, 1990. "Inventories and the Short-Run Dynamics of Commodity Prices," NBER Working Papers 3295, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Muehlegger, Erich, 2006. "Gasoline Price Spikes and Regional Gasoline Content Regulation: A Structural Approach," Working Paper Series rwp06-015, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  9. repec:cdl:agrebk:5335 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Chouinard, Hayley & Perloff, Jeffrey M, 2003. "Incidence of federal and state gasoline taxes," CUDARE Working Paper Series 952, University of California at Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Policy.
  11. Christopher Decker & Mark Wohar, 2007. "Determinants of state diesel fuel excise tax rates: the political economy of fuel taxation in the United States," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer, vol. 41(1), pages 171-188, March.
  12. James Alm & Edward Sennoga & Mark Skidmore, 2009. "Perfect Competition, Urbanization, And Tax Incidence In The Retail Gasoline Market," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 47(1), pages 118-134, 01.
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