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Tax Deductible Spending, Environmental Policy, and the "Double Dividend" Hypothesis

  • Parry, Ian

    ()

    (Resources for the Future)

  • Bento, Antonio

A number of recent studies have shown that the general equilibrium welfare effects of externality-correcting policies depend importantly on pre-existing taxes in the economy, particularly those that distort the labor market. This paper extends the prior literature by allowing for consumption goods that are deductible from labor taxes. These "goods" represent medical insurance, other less tangible fringe benefits, mortgage interest, and so on. The initial tax system effectively subsidizes tax-favored consumption relative to other consumption, in addition to distorting the labor market. The authors find that incorporating tax-favored consumption may overturn key results from earlier studies. In particular, a revenue-neutral pollution tax (or auctioned pollution permits) can produce a substantial "double dividend" by reducing both pollution and the costs of the tax system. The second dividend arises because the welfare gain from using environmental tax revenues to cut labor taxes is much larger when labor taxes also distort the choice among consumption goods. Indeed (ignoring environmental benefits) the overall costs of a revenue-neutral pollution tax are negative in their benchmark simulations, at least for pollution reductions up to 17 percent, and possibly up to 42 percent. In addition, the authors show that the presence of tax-favored consumption may dramatically increase the efficiency gain from using (revenue-neutral) emissions taxes (or auctioned emissions permits) over grandfathered emissions permits.

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Paper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-99-24.

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Date of creation: 01 Feb 1999
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Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-99-24
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  1. Parry, Ian & Oates, Wallace, 1998. "Policy Analysis in a Second-Best World," Discussion Papers dp-98-48, Resources For the Future.
  2. Snow, Arthur & Warren, Ronald Jr., 1996. "The marginal welfare cost of public funds: Theory and estimates," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 289-305, August.
  3. Angus Deaton, 1979. "Optimal Taxes and the Structure of Preferences," Working Papers 506, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  4. Parry, Ian W. H. & Williams, Roberton III & Goulder, Lawrence H., 1999. "When Can Carbon Abatement Policies Increase Welfare? The Fundamental Role of Distorted Factor Markets," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 52-84, January.
  5. A. Lans Bovenberg & Lawrence H. Goulder, 1994. "Optimal Environmental Taxation in the Presence of Other Taxes: General Equilibrium Analyses," NBER Working Papers 4897, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Martin Feldstein, 1995. "Tax Avoidance and the Deadweight Loss of the Income Tax," NBER Working Papers 5055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Lawrence Goulder, 1995. "Environmental taxation and the double dividend: A reader's guide," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 157-183, August.
  8. de Bovenberg, A Lans & Mooij, Ruud A, 1994. "Environmental Levies and Distortionary Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 1085-89, September.
  9. Rosen, Harvey S., 1985. "Housing subsidies: Effects on housing decisions, efficiency, and equity," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 375-420 Elsevier.
  10. Pauly, Mark V, 1986. "Taxation, Health Insurance, and Market Failure in the Medical Economy," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 24(2), pages 629-75, June.
  11. Sandmo, Agnar, 1976. "Optimal taxation : An introduction to the literature," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 37-54.
  12. Brett, Craig & Keen, Michael, 2000. "Political uncertainty and the earmarking of environmental taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(3), pages 315-340, March.
  13. Parry, Ian W. H., 1997. "Environmental taxes and quotas in the presence of distorting taxes in factor markets," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 203-220, August.
  14. Goulder Lawrence H., 1995. "Effects of Carbon Taxes in an Economy with Prior Tax Distortions: An Intertemporal General Equilibrium Analysis," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 271-297, November.
  15. Browning, Edgar K, 1987. "On the Marginal Welfare Cost of Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 11-23, March.
  16. Pizer, William, 1997. "Prices vs. Quantities Revisited: The Case of Climate Change," Discussion Papers dp-98-02, Resources For the Future.
  17. Parry Ian W. H., 1995. "Pollution Taxes and Revenue Recycling," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages S64-S77, November.
  18. Bovenberg, A Lans & de Mooij, Ruud A, 1997. "Environmental Levies and Distortionary Taxation: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 252-53, March.
  19. Victor R. Fuchs & Alan B. Krueger & James M. Poterba, 1998. "Economists' Views about Parameters, Values, and Policies: Survey Results in Labor and Public Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1387-1425, September.
  20. A. Bovenberg & Frederick Van der Ploeg, 1998. "Consequences of Environmental Tax Reform for Unemployment and Welfare," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 12(2), pages 137-150, September.
  21. Burtraw, Dallas & Krupnick, Alan & Austin, David & Farrell, Deirdre & Mansur, Erin, 1997. "The Costs and Benefits of Reducing Acid Rain," Discussion Papers dp-97-31-rev, Resources For the Future.
  22. Bovenberg, A.L. & Goulder, L.H., 1996. "Optimal environmental taxation in the presence of other taxes : General equilibrium analyses," Other publications TiSEM 5d4b7517-c5c8-4ef6-ab76-3, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  23. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1990. "Supply-Side Economics: An Analytical Review," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(2), pages 293-316, April.
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