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Do the Laws of Tax Incidence Hold? Point of Collection and the Pass-through of State Diesel Taxes

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  • Wojciech Kopczuk
  • Justin Marion
  • Erich Muehlegger
  • Joel Slemrod

Abstract

The canonical theory of taxation holds that the incidence of a tax is independent of the side of the market which is responsible for remitting the tax to the government. However, this prediction does not survive in certain circumstances, for example when the ability to evade taxes differs across economic agents. In this paper, we estimate in the context of state diesel fuel taxes how the incidence of a quantity tax depends on the point of tax collection, where the level of the supply chain responsible for remitting the tax varies across states and over time. Our results indicate that moving the point of tax collection from the retail station to higher in the supply chain substantially raises the pass-through of diesel taxes to the retail price. Furthermore, tax revenues respond positively to collecting taxes from the distributor or prime supplier rather than from the retailer, suggesting that evasion is the likely explanation for the incidence result.

Suggested Citation

  • Wojciech Kopczuk & Justin Marion & Erich Muehlegger & Joel Slemrod, 2013. "Do the Laws of Tax Incidence Hold? Point of Collection and the Pass-through of State Diesel Taxes," NBER Working Papers 19410, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19410
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. John Coglianese & Lucas W. Davis & Lutz Kilian & James H. Stock, 2017. "Anticipation, Tax Avoidance, and the Price Elasticity of Gasoline Demand," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 32(1), pages 1-15, January.
    2. Sharat Ganapati & Joseph S. Shapiro & Reed Walker, 2016. "Energy Prices, Pass-Through, and Incidence in U.S. Manufacturing," Working Papers 16-27, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    3. Doerrenberg, Philipp & Duncan, Denvil, 2014. "Tax Incidence in the Presence of Tax Evasion," IZA Discussion Papers 8137, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Sharat Ganapati & Joseph S. Shapiro & Reed Walker, 2016. "The Incidence of Carbon Taxes in U.S. Manufacturing: Lessons from Energy Cost Pass-Through," NBER Working Papers 22281, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Nikolaus Fink, 2016. "Formation and Adaptation of the Sugar Cartel in Austria–Hungary," WIFO Working Papers 508, WIFO.
    6. Pietro Battiston & Denvil Duncan & Simona Gamba & Alessandro Santoro, 2016. "The Italian Blitz: a natural experiment on audit publicity and tax compliance," FBK-IRVAPP Working Papers 2016-10, Research Institute for the Evaluation of Public Policies (IRVAPP), Bruno Kessler Foundation.
    7. Kumler, Todd J. & Verhoogen, Eric & Frias, Judith A., 2013. "Enlisting Employees in Improving Payroll-Tax Compliance: Evidence from Mexico," IZA Discussion Papers 7591, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Joel Slemrod, 2015. "Tax administration and tax systems," Working Papers 2015/13, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    9. Pless, Jacquelyn & Van Benthem, Arthur, 2017. "The Surprising Pass-Through of Solar Subsidies," CEPR Discussion Papers 11908, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Dora Benedek & Ruud A. de Mooij & Michael Keen & Philippe Wingender, 2015. "Estimating VAT Pass Through," CESifo Working Paper Series 5531, CESifo Group Munich.
    11. Di Giacomo, Marina & Piacenza, Massimiliano & Scervini, Francesco & Turati, Gilberto, 2015. "Should we resurrect ‘TIPP flottante’ if oil price booms again? Specific taxes as fuel consumer price stabilizers," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 544-552.
    12. Chen, Shawn Xiaoguang, 2017. "The effect of a fiscal squeeze on tax enforcement: Evidence from a natural experiment in China," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 62-76.
    13. repec:eee:juecon:v:100:y:2017:i:c:p:137-153 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Nordström Skans, Oskar & Harju, Jarkko & Kosonen, Tuomas, 2018. "Firm types, price-setting strategies, and consumption-tax incidence?," Working Paper Series 2018:4, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    15. Gabriel E. Lade & James Bushnell, 2016. "Fuel Subsidy Pass-Through and Market Structure: Evidence from the Renewable Fuel Standard," Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) Publications 16-wp570, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University.
    16. Jacquelyn Pless & Arthur A. van Benthem, 2017. "The Surprising Pass-Through of Solar Subsidies," NBER Working Papers 23260, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    18. Youssef Benzarti & Dorian Carloni & Jarkko Harju & Tuomas Kosonen, 2017. "What Goes Up May Not Come Down: Asymmetric Incidence of Value-Added Taxes," NBER Working Papers 23849, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    21. Benjamin Hansen & Keaton Miller & Caroline Weber, 2017. "The Taxation of Recreational Marijuana: Evidence from Washington State," NBER Working Papers 23632, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy

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