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Tax Structure and Government Behavior: Implications for Tax Policy

  • Roger H. Gordon
  • John D. Wilson

Changes in tax policy can affect all aspects of the economy. Not only do firms and individuals change behavior, creating efficiency costs, but government expenditure choices can also change. Unless these expenditure choices had been optimal' previously, changes in response to a tax reform affect welfare and should be taken into account when designing tax policy. This paper develops a specific model of government behavior and then explores the implications of government, as well as private, behavioral responses for tax policy. In particular, we assume that government officials favor expenditure (or regulatory) choices that increase the government's budget. As a result, higher tax rates on a particular activity encourage government behavior that aids the growth of this activity. This response enables tax policy to redirect government activity in desirable directions, but it also makes Pigovian taxes on negative externalities less effective.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w7244.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7244.

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Date of creation: Jul 1999
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7244
Note: PE
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  1. Edward L. Glaeser, 1995. "The Incentive Effects of Property Taxes on Local Governments," NBER Working Papers 4987, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Lawrence H. Goulder & Ian W.H. Parry & Dallas Burtraw, 1997. "Revenue-Raising versus Other Approaches to Environmental Protection: The Critical Significance of Preexisting Tax Distortions," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(4), pages 708-731, Winter.
  3. Aschauer, David Alan, 1989. "Is public expenditure productive?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 177-200, March.
  4. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  5. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1982. "The Optimal Use of Fines and Imprisonment," NBER Working Papers 0932, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Roger H. Gordon & John D. Wilson, 2001. "Expenditure Competition," NBER Working Papers 8189, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Hoxby, Caroline M., 1999. "The productivity of schools and other local public goods producers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 1-30, October.
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