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The Brazilian 'Tax War': The Case of Value-Added Tax Competition among the States

  • Luiz de Mello

This paper tests for horizontal tax competition in the VAT for a sample of Brazilian states in the period 1985-2001. The states have considerable autonomy to set their VAT rates and bases, often using this tax as an industrial policy tool. The empirical findings, based on the estimation of a tax reaction function in an error-correction set-up, confirm the hypothesis of horizontal tax competition: the states react strongly to changes in their neighbours? VAT code, especially those that belong to the same geo-economic region. Also, there appears to be a Stackelberg leader among the states, with the remaining jurisdictions responding strongly to its policy moves. There is no co-occupancy of tax bases between different levels of government and hence limited scope for vertical externalities in tax setting. But the fact that the federal government shares with the states part of the revenue of its more elastic taxes, such as the income tax, appears to affect the opportunity cost of horizontal tax competition. La "guerre fiscale" au Brésil : La concurrence des états sur la taxe sur la valeur ajoutée Ce document présente une analyse empirique de la concurrence horizontale sur la taxe sur la valeur ajoutée (TVA) parmi les états du Brésil durant la période 1985-2001. Les états brésiliens ont une autonomie considérable en matière de politique fiscale pour établir le taux d’imposition et l’assiette de leur TVA. Ils se servent souvent de cet impôt comme instrument de politique industrielle. Les résultats de l’analyse empirique basée sur l’estimation d’une fonction de réaction fiscale avec un mécanisme de correction d’erreur confirme l’hypothèse de concurrence horizontale parmi les états: ils réagissent fortement aux changements des taux d’imposition de la TVA de leurs voisins, surtout ceux qui appartiennent à la même région géo-économique. Par ailleurs, il y a un leader Stackelberg parmi les états, puisque les autres administrations réagissent fortement à sa politique fiscale. Les différents niveaux d’administration ne partagent pas les mêmes assiettes de sorte que les externalités verticales associées à la politique fiscale sont assez limitée au Brésil. Néanmoins, le fait que l’administration fédérale partage avec les états une part importante des recettes de ses impôts plus élastiques, tel que l’impôt sur le revenu, affecte le coût d’opportunité de la concurrence horizontale parmi les états en terme de politique fiscale.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/286220576442
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Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Economics Department Working Papers with number 544.

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Date of creation: 14 Feb 2007
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Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:544-en
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  1. Michael Keen, 1997. "Vertical Tax Externalities in the Theory of Fiscal Federalism," IMF Working Papers 97/173, International Monetary Fund.
  2. Rork, Jonathan C., 2003. "Coveting Thy Neighbors' Taxation," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 56(4), pages 775-87, December.
  3. Esteller-More, Alex & Sole-Olle, Albert, 2001. "Vertical income tax externalities and fiscal interdependence: evidence from the US," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2-3), pages 247-272, April.
  4. Alejandro Esteller-Moré & Albert Solé-Ollé, 2002. "Tax Setting in a Federal System: The Case of Personal Income Taxation in Canada," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 235-257, May.
  5. Thiess Buettner, 2001. "Local Business Taxation and Competition for Capital: The Choice of the Tax Rate," CESifo Working Paper Series 440, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Black, Dan A & Hoyt, William H, 1989. "Bidding for Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1249-56, December.
  7. Marius BRÜLHART & Mario JAMETTI, 2004. "Vertical Versus Horizontal Tax Externalities: An Empirical Test," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 04.11, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
  8. Luiz de Mello, 2008. "Estimating a fiscal reaction function: the case of debt sustainability in Brazil," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(3), pages 271-284.
  9. Wilson, John Douglas, 1999. "Theories of Tax Competition," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 2), pages 269-304, June.
  10. Timothy J. Besley & Harvey S. Rosen, 1999. "Vertical Externalities in Tax Setting: Evidence from Gasoline and Cigarettes," NBER Working Papers 6517, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Keen, Michael J. & Kotsogiannis, Christos, 2004. "Tax competition in federations and the welfare consequences of decentralization," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 397-407, November.
  12. Devereux, Michael & Lockwood, Ben & Redoano, Michela, 2004. "Horizontal And Vertical Indirect Tax Competition : Theory And Some Evidence From The Usa," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 704, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  13. Goodspeed, Timothy J., 2000. "Tax structure in a federation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(3), pages 493-506, March.
  14. Michael A. Nelson, 2002. "Using Excise Taxes to Finance State Government: Do Neighboring State Taxation Policy and Cross-Border Markets Matter?," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(4), pages 731-752.
  15. Rosanne Altshuler & Timothy J. Goodspeed, 2002. "Follow the Leader? Evidence on European and U.S. Tax Competition," Departmental Working Papers 200226, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  16. Besley, Timothy & Case, Anne, 1995. "Incumbent Behavior: Vote-Seeking, Tax-Setting, and Yardstick Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 25-45, March.
  17. Masayoshi Hayashi & Robin Boadway, 2001. "An empirical analysis of intergovernmental tax interaction: the case of business income taxes in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(2), pages 481-503, May.
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