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Tariffs Versus VAT in the Presence of Heterogeneous Firms and an Informal Sector

  • Ronald Davies

    ()

    (University College Dublin, Institute for International Integration Studies, Trinity College Dublin)

  • Louren Paz

    ()

    (Syracuse University)

The debate over the use of tariffs or value added taxes in developing countries has focused on the difficulty of collecting VAT from the informal sector of the economy. This paper contributes by considering this issue with heterogeneous firms and endogenous entry. This yields two new results. First, a cut in the tariff in and of itself can reduce the size of the informal sector. Second, the imposition of a VAT need not increase the number of informal firms. In fact, for many parameterizations of the model, higher VAT reduces informality. Despite this, whether a revenue neutral shift from tariffs to VAT increases or decreases welfare depends on the parametrization. Therefore while this move may be welfare improving in some cases, it is not a one-size fits all policy.

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Paper provided by IIIS in its series The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series with number iiisdp323.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2010
Date of revision: Mar 2010
Handle: RePEc:iis:dispap:iiisdp323
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  1. Davin Chor, 2007. "Subsidies for FDI: Implications from a Model with Heterogeneous Firms," Working Papers 04-2007, Singapore Management University, School of Economics.
  2. Schröder, Philipp J.H. & Jørgensen, Jan G., 2007. "Fixed Export Cost heterogeneity, Trade and Welfare," MPRA Paper 7397, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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  4. Piermartini, Roberta, 2004. "The role of export taxes in the field of primary commodities," WTO Discussion Papers 4, World Trade Organization (WTO), Economic Research and Statistics Division.
  5. Dorothée Boccanfuso & Celine De Quatrebarbes & Luc Savard, 2011. "Can the removal of VAT Exemptions support the Poor? The Case of Niger," Working Papers halshs-00577148, HAL.
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  9. John Piggott & John Whalley, 1998. "VAT Base Broadening, Self Supply, and The Informal Sector," NBER Working Papers 6349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Davies, Ronald B. & Eckel, Carsten, 2010. "Tax Competition for Heterogeneous Firms with Endogenous Entry," Munich Reprints in Economics 20021, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  11. Bird,Richard & Gendron,Pierre-Pascal, 2007. "The VAT in Developing and Transitional Countries," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521877657.
  12. Keen, Michael, 2008. "VAT, tariffs, and withholding: Border taxes and informality in developing countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 1892-1906, October.
  13. Emran, M. Shahe & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 2005. "On selective indirect tax reform in developing countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(4), pages 599-623, April.
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  15. Friedrich Schneider & Dominik Enste, 2000. "Shadow Economies Around the World; Size, Causes, and Consequences," IMF Working Papers 00/26, International Monetary Fund.
  16. Matthew T. Cole, 2009. "The choice of modeling firm heterogeneity and trade restrictions," Working Papers 200920, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  17. Dominik H. Enste & Friedrich Schneider, 2000. "Shadow Economies: Size, Causes, and Consequences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 77-114, March.
  18. repec:shr:wpaper:11-04 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Matthew T. Cole & Ronald B. Davies, 2009. "Optimal tariffs, tariff jumping, and heterogeneous firms," Working Papers 200919, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  20. Gatti, Roberta & Honorati, Maddalena, 2007. "Informality among Formal Firms: Firm-level, Cross-country Evidence on Tax Compliance and Access to Credit," CEPR Discussion Papers 6597, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  21. Robin Boadway & Motohiro Sato, 2009. "Optimal Tax Design and Enforcement with an Informal Sector," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 1-27, February.
  22. Elhanan Helpman & Marc J. Melitz & Stephen R. Yeaple, 2004. "Export Versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 300-316, March.
  23. Knud Jørgen Munk, 2006. "On the Rationale for the Use of Border Taxes in Developing Countries," Economics Working Papers 2006-12, School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus.
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