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Tax Structure and Government Behavior: Implications for Tax Policy

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  • Roger H. Gordon
  • John D. Wilson

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Roger H. Gordon & John D. Wilson, 1999. "Tax Structure and Government Behavior: Implications for Tax Policy," NBER Working Papers 7244, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7244
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Aschauer, David Alan, 1989. "Is public expenditure productive?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 177-200, March.
    3. John Douglas Wilson & Roger H. Gordon, 2003. "Expenditure Competition," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 5(2), pages 399-417, April.
    4. Polinsky, A. Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1984. "The optimal use of fines and imprisonment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 89-99, June.
    5. 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.
    6. Glaeser, Edward L, 1996. "The Incentive Effects of Property Taxes on Local Governments," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 89(1-2), pages 93-111, October.
    7. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-444, June.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Krause, Günter, 2004. "On the role of budgeting in the delegated provision of public goods under asymmetric information," W.E.P. - Würzburg Economic Papers 51, University of Würzburg, Chair for Monetary Policy and International Economics.
    2. Susan Steiner, 2005. "Decentralisation and Poverty Reduction: A Conceptual Framework for the Economic Impact," Public Economics 0508006, EconWPA.
    3. Myrna Wooders & Ben Zissimos, 2003. "Hotelling Tax Competition," CESifo Working Paper Series 932, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Baicker, Katherine & Jacobson, Mireille, 2007. "Finders keepers: Forfeiture laws, policing incentives, and local budgets," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(11-12), pages 2113-2136, December.
    5. Borge, Lars-Erik & Rattsø, Jørn, 2008. "Property taxation as incentive for cost control: Empirical evidence for utility services in Norway," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(6), pages 1035-1054, August.
    6. Jørn Rattsø & Jon Hernes Fiva, 2005. "Decentralization with Property Taxation to Improve Incentives: Evidence from Local Governments’ Discrete Choice," Working Paper Series 5305, Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, revised 02 Sep 2005.
    7. Scott Gehlbach, 2003. "Taxability and Government Support of Business Activity: Testing Theories of Social-Contract Failure," Working Papers w0028, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
    8. Borck, Rainald, 2004. "Stricter enforcement may increase tax evasion," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 725-737, September.
    9. Rajaraman, Indira & Vasishtha, Garima, 2000. "Impact of grants on tax effort of local government," Working Papers 00/1, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.
    10. Zissimos, Ben & Wooders, Myrna, 2005. "Relaxing Tax Competition through Public Good Differentation," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 737, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    11. Katherine Baicker & Mireille Jacobson, 2004. "Finders Keepers: Forfeiture Laws, Policing Incentives, and Local Budgets," NBER Working Papers 10484, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Marire, Juniours & Sunde, Tafirenyika, 2012. "Economic Growth and Tax Structure in Zimbabwe: 1984–2009," MPRA Paper 86606, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Libman, Alexander, 2004. "Мировой Опыт Оптимизации Налогообложения: Роль Налоговой Конкуренции И Оффшорных Центров В Мировом Хозяйстве
      [International Experience of Tax Optimization - The Role of Tax Competition and Offshore
      ," MPRA Paper 17042, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Ingolf Dittmann, 2006. "The Optimal Use of Fines and Imprisonment If Governments Do Not Maximize Welfare," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 8(4), pages 677-695, October.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation

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