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How is Tax Policy Conducted over the Business Cycle?

  • Carlos A. Vegh
  • Guillermo Vuletin

It is well known by now that government spending has typically been procyclical in developing economies but acyclical or countercyclical in industrial countries. Little, if any, is known, however, about the cyclical behavior of tax rates (as opposed to tax revenues, which are endogenous to the business cycle and hence cannot shed light on the cyclicality of tax policy). We build a novel dataset on tax rates for 62 countries for the period 1960-2013 that comprises corporate income, personal income, and value-added tax rates. We find that, by and large, tax policy is acyclical in industrial countries but mostly procyclical in developing countries. Further, tax policy in countries with better institutions and/or more integrated with world capital markets tends to be less procyclical/more countercyclical.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17753.

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Date of creation: Jan 2012
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Publication status: published as Carlos A. Vegh & Guillermo Vuletin, 2015. "How Is Tax Policy Conducted over the Business Cycle?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 327-70, August.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17753
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  1. Gabriel Cuadra & Juan Sanchez & Horacio Sapriza, 2010. "Fiscal Policy and Default Risk in Emerging Markets," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 13(2), pages 452-469, April.
  2. Frankel, Jeffrey A. & Vegh, Carlos A. & Vuletin, Guillermo, 2012. "On Graduation from Fiscal Procyclicality," Working Paper Series rwp12-011, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  3. Reinhart, Carmen & Kaminsky, Graciela & Vegh, Carlos, 2004. "When it rains, it pours: Procyclical capital flows and macroeconomic policies," MPRA Paper 13883, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Robert J. Barro & Charles J. Redlick, 2009. "Macroeconomic Effects from Government Purchases and Taxes," NBER Working Papers 15369, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. European Commission, 2013. "Tax reforms in EU Member States - Tax policy challenges for economic growth and fiscal sustainability – 2013 Report," Taxation Papers 38, Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission.
  8. V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1998. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy," Staff Report 251, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  9. Bauducco, Sofia & Caprioli, Francesco, 2014. "Optimal fiscal policy in a small open economy with limited commitment," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(2), pages 302-315.
  10. Lane, Philip R. & Milesi-Ferretti, Gian Maria, 2006. "The External Wealth of Nations Mark II: Revised and Extended Estimates of Foreign Assets and Liabilities, 1970-2004," CEPR Discussion Papers 5644, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. European Commission, 2012. "Tax reforms in EU Member States - Tax policy challenges for economic growth and fiscal sustainability – 2012 Report," Taxation Papers 34, Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission.
  12. Ugo Panizza & Dany Jaimovich, 2007. "Procyclicality or Reverse Causality?," Research Department Publications 4508, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  13. Mark Bils & Peter J. Klenow, 2002. "Some Evidence on the Importance of Sticky Prices," NBER Working Papers 9069, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. European Commission, 2011. "Tax Reforms in EU Member States 2011: tax policy challenges for economic growth and fiscal sustainability," Taxation Papers 28, Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission.
  15. European Commission, 2011. "Taxation trends in the European Union: 2011 edition," Taxation trends 2011, Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission.
  16. Sebastian Edwards & Guido Tabellini, 1990. "Explaining Fiscal Policies and Inflation in Developing Countries," NBER Working Papers 3493, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Daniel Riera-Crichton & Carlos A. Vegh & Guillermo Vuletin, 2012. "Tax Multipliers: Pitfalls in Measurement and Identification," NBER Working Papers 18497, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Huang, Chao-Hsi & Lin, Kenneth S., 1993. "Deficits, government expenditures, and tax smoothing in the United States: 1929-1988," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 317-339, June.
  19. Strawczynski, Michel, 2013. "Cyclicality of statutory tax rates," MPRA Paper 48821, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  20. Nolivos, Roberto Delhy & Vuletin, Guillermo, 2014. "The role of central bank independence on optimal taxation and seigniorage," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 440-458.
  21. Ethan Ilzetzki & Carlos A. Vegh, 2008. "Procyclical Fiscal Policy in Developing Countries: Truth or Fiction?," NBER Working Papers 14191, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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