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The Size Distribution of Firms, Cournot, and Optimal Taxation

  • Mark Gersovitz
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    Tax laws and administrations often treat different size firms differently. There is, however, little research on the consequences. As modeled here, oligopolists with different efficiencies determine the size distribution of firms. A government that maximizes a weighted sum of consumer surplus, profits, and tax receipts can tax firms with different efficiencies differently and provides a reference point for other, more restricted differential tax systems. Taxes include a specific sales tax, an ad valorem sales tax, and a profits tax with imperfect deductibility of capital cost, and a combination of the last two. In general there is a pattern of tax rates by efficiency of firm. It is heavily dependent on the social valuation of tax receipts. Analytic and simulation results are provided. When both ad valorem taxes and the imperfect profits tax are combined, simulations suggest that the former rate is higher and the latter rate is lower for relatively inefficient firms.

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    Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 06/271.

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    Length: 26
    Date of creation: 01 Dec 2006
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:06/271
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    1. Gareth Myles, 1996. "Imperfect competition and the optimal combination of ad valorem and specific taxation," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 29-44, January.
    2. Cabral, Luís M B & Mata, José, 2001. "On the Evolution of the Firm Size Distribution: Facts and Theory," CEPR Discussion Papers 3045, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Bergstrom, Theodore C. & Varian, Hal R., 1985. "Two remarks on Cournot equilibria," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 5-8.
    4. Keen, Michael & Mintz, Jack, 2004. "The optimal threshold for a value-added tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(3-4), pages 559-576, March.
    5. Delipalla, Sofia & Keen, Michael, 1992. "The comparison between ad valorem and specific taxation under imperfect competition," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 351-367, December.
    6. Desai, Mihir A. & Hines Jr., James R., 2008. "Market reactions to export subsidies," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 459-474, March.
    7. Leahy, Dermot & Montagna, Catia, 2001. "Strategic Trade Policy with Heterogeneous Costs," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(3), pages 177-82, July.
    8. Greg Shaffer & Stephen W. Salant, 1999. "Unequal Treatment of Identical Agents in Cournot Equilibrium," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 585-604, June.
    9. Kanbur, S M, 1979. "Of Risk Taking and the Personal Distribution of Income," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(4), pages 769-97, August.
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