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Sales tax competition and a multinational with a decreasing marginal cost


  • Alexei Alexandrov

    (Simon Graduate School of Business, University of Rochester)

  • Özlem Bedre-Defolie

    (ESMT European School of Management and Technology)


We examine a multinational firm which has a decreasing marginal cost, and the optimal sales tax policies of the regions where that firm operates. We show that the regions set higher sales taxes than those given by a cooperative equilibrium. Each region fails to fully internalize the effects of its tax level on another region's welfare and the incentives for that region's authority. Exponential cost functions which exhibit economies of scale (for example Cobb-Douglas) and linear demand functions satisfy our assumptions. Our results suggest the need to coordinate sales tax levels between countries and between smaller entities, like states in the United States. Smaller regions benefit more from such coordination. Lowering sales taxes in each region increases welfare for all regions, profits for firms, and consumer welfare.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexei Alexandrov & Özlem Bedre-Defolie, 2011. "Sales tax competition and a multinational with a decreasing marginal cost," ESMT Research Working Papers ESMT-11-01, ESMT European School of Management and Technology.
  • Handle: RePEc:esm:wpaper:esmt-11-01

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Becker, Johannes & Fuest, Clemens, 2010. "EU regional policy and tax competition," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 150-161, January.
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    3. Burbidge, John & Cuff, Katherine, 2005. "Capital tax competition and returns to scale," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 353-373, July.
    4. Devereux, Michael P. & Lockwood, Ben & Redoano, Michela, 2008. "Do countries compete over corporate tax rates?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1210-1235, June.
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    6. Bond, Eric W & Samuelson, Larry, 1989. "Strategic Behaviour and the Rules for International Taxation of Capital," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(398), pages 1099-1111, December.
    7. Ackerberg, Daniel & Caves, Kevin & Frazer, Garth, 2006. "Structural identification of production functions," MPRA Paper 38349, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    9. Bond, Eric W. & Gresik, Thomas A., 1996. "Regulation of multinational firms with two active governments: A common agency approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 33-53, January.
    10. Zhiqi Chen & Thomas Ross, 2007. "Markets Linked by Rising Marginal Costs: Implications for Multimarket Contact, Recoupment, and Retaliatory Entry," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 31(1), pages 1-21, August.
    11. Michael J. Keen & Christos Kotsogiannis, 2002. "Does Federalism Lead to Excessively High Taxes?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 363-370, March.
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    More about this item


    tax competition; sales taxes; multinationals; decreasing marginal cost; economies of scale;

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue

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