The efficiency of indirect taxes under imperfect competition
This paper considers the relative efficiency of ad valorem and unit taxes in imperfectly competitive markets. We provide a simple proof that ad valorem taxes are welfare-superior to unit taxes in the short run when production costs are identical across firms. The proof covers differentiated products and a wide range of market conduct. Cost asymmetries strengthen the case for ad valorem taxation under Cournot competition, but unit taxation may be welfare-superior under Bertrand competition with product differentiation. Ad valorem taxation is superior with free entry under Cournot competition, but not necessarily under price competition when consumers value variety.
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