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Price Neutral Tax reform With an Informal Economy

  • Joseph E. Stiglitz
  • M. Shahe Emran

A Strand of recent literature shows that a reform of import tariff (export tax) and consumption tax (production tax) that keeps consumer (producer) price unchanged cnhances welfare and increases revenue under plausible conditions. We demonstrate that the results derived so far critically depend on the unrealistic assumption that there is no informal sector in the economy, implying that each and every commodity in the economy can be taxed through VAT and production tax. Our results show that, when the feasibility restrictions on the tax instruments imposed by the presence of a large informal and shadow economy is taken into account, such consumer or producer price-neutral reform reduces both revenue and welfare under plausible conditions. The Results add to the emerging skepticism about the desirability of the widely accepted tax reform policies in developing countries that focus on the reduction of trade taxes with coordinated increase in VAT to cover the revenue loss

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Paper provided by Econometric Society in its series Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings with number 493.

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Date of creation: 11 Aug 2004
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Handle: RePEc:ecm:nasm04:493
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  1. Panagariya, Arvind, 1992. "Input tariffs, duty drawbacks, and tariff reforms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1-2), pages 131-147, February.
  2. Howell H. Zee & Vito Tanzi, 2000. "Tax Policy for Emerging Markets; Developing Countries," IMF Working Papers 00/35, International Monetary Fund.
  3. Zee, Howell H., 1996. "Empirics of crosscountry tax revenue comparisons," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(10), pages 1659-1671, October.
  4. Michael Keen & Johanna Elisabeth Ligthart, 1999. "Coordinating Tariff Reduction and Domestic Tax Reform," IMF Working Papers 99/93, International Monetary Fund.
  5. Hatta, Tatsuo, 1977. "A Theory of Piecemeal Policy Recommendations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(1), pages 1-21, February.
  6. Emran, M. Shahe & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 2005. "On selective indirect tax reform in developing countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(4), pages 599-623, April.
  7. James E. Anderson, 1997. "Trade Reform with a Government Budget Constraint," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 348., Boston College Department of Economics.
  8. Dixit, Avinash, 1985. "Tax policy in open economies," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 313-374 Elsevier.
  9. Diewert, W E & Turunen-Red, A H & Woodland, A D, 1989. "Productivity- and Pareto-Improving Changes in Taxes and Tariffs," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(2), pages 199-215, April.
  10. Michael, Michael S. & Hatzipanayotou, Panos & Miller, Stephen M., 1993. "Integrated reforms of tariffs and consumption taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 417-428, October.
  11. Burgess, Robin & Stern, Nicholas, 1993. "Taxation and Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 762-830, June.
  12. Abe, Kenzo, 1992. "Tariff Reform in a Small Open Economy with Public Production," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 33(1), pages 209-22, February.
  13. John Piggott & John Whalley, 1998. "VAT Base Broadening, Self Supply, and The Informal Sector," NBER Working Papers 6349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Abe, Kenzo, 1995. "The Target Rates of Tariff and Tax Reform," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 36(4), pages 875-85, November.
  15. Emran, M. Shahe, 2005. "Revenue-increasing and welfare-enhancing reform of taxes on exports," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 277-292, June.
  16. Hatzipanayotou, Panos & Michael, Michael S. & Miller, Stephen M., 1994. "Win-win indirect tax reform : A modest proposal," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 44(1-2), pages 147-151.
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