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Taxation of car ownership, car use and public transport: insights derived from a discrete choice numerical optimisation model

  • De Borger Bruno

    ()

    (University of Antwerp)

  • Mayeres Inge

    ()

    (Federal Planning Bureau, Brussels, Belgium and K.U.Leuven-Center for Economic Studies)

In this paper we study the taxation of car ownership, car use and public transport in the presence of externalities within the framework of a discrete/continuous choice model. We first derive optimal taxes in a simplified setting, emphasizing the specific role of fixed car ownership taxes and the relevance of public transport demand by non-car owners for the optimal tax structure. A numerical optimisation model is then constructed to study welfareoptimal public transport fares and two-part tariffs on ownership and use of gasoline and diesel cars in Belgium. Results are as follows. First, we find that the current differences in tax treatment between diesel and gasoline car ownership and use cannot be justified on the basis of external cost and budgetary considerations. Efficient pricing requires substantial increases in the relative user tax on diesel cars as compared to gasoline cars; optimal fixed taxes are substantially below current levels and only marginally differ between car fuel types. Second, if for political or technical reasons variable car taxes cannot be optimally adjusted, large differences in fixed car taxes do result. The same holds if the government uses kilometre taxes as the main variable tax instrument. Third, the results of a series of marginal tax reform exercises suggest that a shift form gasoline towards diesel taxation is welfare improving, both for fixed and variable taxes. Somewhat surprisingly, a shift from fixed towards variable taxes is not necessarily welfare-improving: it is for diesel, but not for gasoline cars.

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Paper provided by Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën, Energy, Transport and Environment in its series Energy, Transport and Environment Working Papers Series with number ete0413.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ete:etewps:ete0413
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  1. Inge Mayeres & Stef Proost, 2000. "Should Diesel Cars in Europe be discouraged ?," Center for Economic Studies - Discussion papers ces0018, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën.
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  9. Ian W. H. Parry & Kenneth A. Small, 2005. "Does Britain or the United States Have the Right Gasoline Tax?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1276-1289, September.
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  11. Arnott, Richard & de Palma, Andre & Lindsey, Robin, 1993. "A Structural Model of Peak-Period Congestion: A Traffic Bottleneck with Elastic Demand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 161-79, March.
  12. Verhoef, Erik T., 2002. "Second-best congestion pricing in general networks. Heuristic algorithms for finding second-best optimal toll levels and toll points," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 36(8), pages 707-729, September.
  13. Kraus, Marvin, 1989. "The welfare gains from pricing road congestion using automatic vehicle identification and on-vehicle meters," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 261-281, May.
  14. De Borger, Bruno & Wouters, Sandra, 1998. "Transport externalities and optimal pricing and supply decisions in urban transportation: a simulation analysis for Belgium," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 163-197, March.
  15. Glaister, Stephen & Lewis, Davis, 1978. "An integrated fares policy for transport in London," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 341-355, June.
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  17. Ngee-Choon Chia & Albert K C Tsui & John Whalley, 2001. "Ownership and Use Taxes as Congestion Correcting Instruments," NBER Working Papers 8278, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Kenneth Train, 1985. "Qualitative Choice Analysis: Theory, Econometrics, and an Application to Automobile Demand," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200554, June.
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