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Consumption Taxes: Some Fundamental Transition Issues

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  • David Bradford

Abstract

A number of tax reform plans under discussion in the United States would replace the existing hybrid income-based system with a consumption-based system. In this paper I use uniform (single-rate) consumption and income taxes: (a) to explain how the problem of taxing "old savings" or "old capital" manifests itself in the shift from an income to a consumption base; (b) to indicate the tradeoffs that must be confronted in dealing with this phenomenon; (c) to show how price level changes that may or may not accompany a transition affect the distribution of gains and losses; (d) to sketch out how a transition might affect interest rates and asset prices (including owner-occupied housing); (e) to explore the case in equity for protecting the tax-free recovery of old savings; and (f) to enphasize the incentive problems that arise if savers and investors anticipate a change in the change in the tax rate in a consumption-based system.

Suggested Citation

  • David Bradford, "undated". "Consumption Taxes: Some Fundamental Transition Issues," EPRU Working Paper Series 95-15, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:epruwp:95-15
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Christian Keuschnigg, 1991. "The Transition to a Cash Flow Income Tax," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 127(II), pages 113-140, June.
    2. David F. Bradford, 1991. "Market Value versus Financial Accounting Measures of National Saving," NBER Chapters,in: National Saving and Economic Performance, pages 15-48 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Auerbach, Alan J, 1989. "Tax Reform and Adjustment Costs: The Impact on Investment and Market Value," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 30(4), pages 939-962, November.
    4. Alan J. Auerbach & Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1994. "Generational Accounting: A Meaningful Way to Evaluate Fiscal Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 73-94, Winter.
    5. Browning, Edgar K, 1978. "The Burden of Taxation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(4), pages 649-671, August.
    6. Bradford, D.F., 1989. "Market Value Us. Financial Accounting Measures Of National Saving," Papers 34, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
    7. Alan J. Auerbach & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1983. "National Savings, Economic Welfare, and the Structure of Taxation," NBER Chapters,in: Behavioral Simulation Methods in Tax Policy Analysis, pages 459-498 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Roger H. Gordon, 1985. "Taxation of Corporate Capital Income: Tax Revenues Versus Tax Distortions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(1), pages 1-27.
    9. Cardarelli, Roberto & Sefton, James & Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 2000. "Generational Accounting in the UK," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(467), pages 547-574, November.
    10. Alan A. Tait, 1991. "Value-Added Tax; Administrative and Policy Issues," IMF Occasional Papers 88, International Monetary Fund.
    11. Howitt, Peter & Sinn, Hans-Werner, 1989. "Gradual Reforms of Capital Income Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 106-124, March.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Paul van den Noord & Chistopher Heady, 2001. "Surveillance of Tax Policies: A Synthesis of Findings in Economic Surveys," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 303, OECD Publishing.
    2. Louis Kaplow, 2006. "Capital Levies and Transition to a Consumption Tax," NBER Working Papers 12259, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Andreas Haufler & Søren Nielsen, 1997. "Dynamic effects of an anticipated switch from destination- to origin-based commodity taxation," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 66(1), pages 43-69, February.
    4. Daniel R. Feenberg & Andrew W. Mitrusi & James M. Poterba, 1997. "Distributional Effects of Adopting a National Retail Sales Tax," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 11, pages 49-90 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. George R. Zodrow, 2007. "Should Capital Income be Subject to Consumption-Based Taxation?," Working Papers 0715, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
    6. Kent A. Smetters, 2003. "Trading with the Unborn: A New Perspective on Capital Income Taxation," NBER Working Papers 9412, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Gaube, Thomas & Schwager, Robert, 2003. "Consumption vs. wage taxation and the capital levy," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 15-19, April.
    8. Alan D. Viard, 2000. "The transition to consumption taxation, part 1: the impact on existing capital," Economic and Financial Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, issue Q3, pages 2-22.
    9. David F. Bradford, 2003. "The X Tax in the World Economy," Working Papers 109, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    10. Buiter, Willem H. & Lago, Ricardo & Rey, Hélène, 1997. "Enterprises in Transition: Macroeconomic Influences on Enterprise Decision-making and Performance," CEPR Discussion Papers 1601, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Bradford, David F, 2003. "Addressing the Transfer-Pricing Problem in an Origin-Basis X Tax," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 10(5), pages 591-610, September.
    12. Smetters, Kent, 2006. "Risk sharing across generations without publicly owned equities," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1493-1508, October.
    13. George Zodrow, 2006. "Capital Mobility and Source-Based Taxation of Capital Income in Small Open Economies," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 13(2), pages 269-294, May.
    14. William M. Gentry & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1997. "Distributional Implications of Introducing a Broad-Based Consumption Tax," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 11, pages 1-48 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Martin Feldstein, 1995. "The Effect of a Consumption Tax on the Rate of Interest," NBER Working Papers 5397, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Louis Kaplow, 2003. "Transition Policy: A Conceptual Framework," NBER Working Papers 9596, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. David F. Bradford, 1998. "Transition to and Tax-Rate Flexibility in a Cash-Flow-Type Tax," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 12, pages 151-172 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Kent Smetters, 2001. "The Equivalence of the Social Security's Trust Fund Portfolio Allocation and Capital Income Tax Policy," NBER Working Papers 8259, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Boss, Alfred, 1999. "Do we need tax harmonization in the EU?," Kiel Working Papers 916, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies

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