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A New Approach to Optimal Commodity Taxation

  • Homburg, Stefan

This paper makes a fresh attempt at characterizing optimal commodity taxes. Under the usual assumptions, an extremely simple expression of second-best commodity taxes is derived, showing tax rates as functions of observable variables only, rather than as functions of unobservable variables such as compensated cross elasticities. The main formula is independent of special preferences, and independent of the number of commodities. It has a simple economic meaning and could be particularly useful for empirical research. Examples and remarks on the normalization problem are provided.

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File URL: http://diskussionspapiere.wiwi.uni-hannover.de/pdf_bib/dp-299.pdf
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Paper provided by Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät in its series Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) with number dp-299.

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Length: 13 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:han:dpaper:dp-299
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  1. Sandmo, Agnar, 1990. "Tax Distortions and Household Production," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(1), pages 78-90, January.
  2. Stern, Nicholas, 1986. "A Note on Commodity Taxation: The Choice of Variable and the Slutsky, Hessian and Antonelli Matrices (SHAM)," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(2), pages 293-99, April.
  3. Deaton, Angus, 1979. "The Distance Function in Consumer Behaviour with Applications to Index Numbers and Optimal Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(3), pages 391-405, July.
  4. Michael Smart, 2002. "Reforming the Direct–Indirect Tax Mix," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 143-155, March.
  5. Auerbach, Alan J. & Hines, James Jr., 2002. "Taxation and economic efficiency," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 21, pages 1347-1421 Elsevier.
  6. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1972. "The structure of indirect taxation and economic efficiency," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 97-119, April.
  7. Sandmo, Agnar, 1987. "A Reinterpretation of Elasticity Formulae in Optimum Tax Theory," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 54(213), pages 89-96, February.
  8. Mirrlees, J. A., 1976. "Optimal tax theory : A synthesis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 327-358, November.
  9. David Coady & Jean Drèze, 2002. "Commodity Taxation and Social Welfare: The Generalized Ramsey Rule," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 295-316, May.
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