Designing green taxes in a political context: From optimal to feasible environmental regulation
How should green taxation be designed so that it accommodates producer interests? We argue that to design green taxes which are high enough to have the desired incentive effects, tax revenues must be reimbursed, either by earmarking them for environmental subsidies or by reducing other taxes directed at industry. If green tax schemes can be designed this way, industry will have little incentive to mobilise strong opposition to green taxation. However, in practice, the requirement of reimbursement may be difficult to fulfil because, with few exceptions, polluting industries are not homogeneous. This means that reimbursement will redistribute financial resources within industry and thus create winners and losers. Still, green taxes can be used in heterogeneous industries which can be created by operating separate tax schemes for each branch of industry. The Danish case of pesticide taxation demonstrates that relatively high tax levels can be implemented if an equal relationship between the tax object and the object determining the level of refunds exists throughout the sector. This means that revenues can be reimbursed without creating redistribution within producer communities.
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