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Taxing Consumption and Other Sins

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  • James R. Hines Jr.

Abstract

Throughout American history, the U.S. federal and state governments have imposed excise taxes on commodities such as alcohol and tobacco (and more recently, gasoline and firearms). Rates of such "sin" taxation, and consumption taxation broadly (including sales taxes and value-added taxes), are currently much lower in the United States than they are in Europe, Japan, and other affluent parts of the world. In part, this reflects relative government sizes, but that is not the whole story, since even controlling for total tax collections, levels of national income, government decentralization, and openness to international trade, the United States imposes unusually low excise and consumption taxes. As a result, the United States relies to a much greater degree than other countries on personal and corporate income taxes, thereby affording fewer opportunities to use the tax system to protect individuals and the environment by discouraging the consumption of "sinful" commodities, and instead simply discouraging saving and investment.

Suggested Citation

  • James R. Hines Jr., 2006. "Taxing Consumption and Other Sins," NBER Working Papers 12730, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12730
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Christian Baker & Jeremy Bejarano & Richard W. Evans & Kenneth L. Judd & Kerk L. Phillips, 2014. "A Big Data Approach to Optimal Sales Taxation," BYU Macroeconomics and Computational Laboratory Working Paper Series 2014-03, Brigham Young University, Department of Economics, BYU Macroeconomics and Computational Laboratory.
    2. Ligia Alba Melo-Becerra & Javier Ávila Mahecha & Jorge Enrique Ramos-Forero, 2017. "The effect of corporate taxes on investment: Evidence from the Colombian firms," Borradores de Economia 1001, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    3. Laurence Seidman, 2014. "Medicare For All: A Public Finance Analysis," Working Papers 14-02, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.
    4. Mathieu-Bolh, Nathalie, 2010. "Welfare improving distributionally neutral tax reforms," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 1253-1268, September.
    5. Laurence Seidman, 2013. "Overcoming the Fiscal Trilemma with Two Progressive Consumption Tax Supplements," Public Finance Review, , vol. 41(6), pages 824-851, November.
    6. Laurence Seidman, 2013. "Medicare for All," Challenge, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 56(1), pages 88-115.
    7. DeCicca, Philip & Kenkel, Donald & Liu, Feng, 2013. "Excise tax avoidance: The case of state cigarette taxes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1130-1141.
    8. Antonio Gómez Gómez-Plana & Pedro Pascual Arzoz, 2011. "Fraude fiscal e IVA en España: incidencia en un modelo de equilibrio general," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 199(4), pages 9-52, December.
    9. Bernardi, Luigi, 2009. "Le tasse in Europa dagli anni novanta
      [Taxation in Europe since the Years 1990s]
      ," MPRA Paper 23441, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Kevin Callison & Robert Kaestner, 2014. "Do Higher Tobacco Taxes Reduce Adult Smoking? New Evidence Of The Effect Of Recent Cigarette Tax Increases On Adult Smoking," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(1), pages 155-172, January.
    11. N. Gregory Mankiw & Matthew Weinzierl & Danny Yagan, 2009. "Optimal Taxation in Theory and Practice," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(4), pages 147-174, Fall.
    12. Laurence Seidman, 2014. "Book Review: The Death of the Income Tax: A Progressive Consumption Tax and the Path to Fiscal Reform by Daniel Goldberg (Oxford University Press, Oxford, Uk, 2013, 318 Pages)," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 67(1), pages 269-278, March.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue

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