The Optimal Taxation Approach to Intergovernmental Grants
An optimal tax system equates the marginal cost of public funds across all tax bases. This idea is applied to a federation to derive the optimal unconditional transfers that will promote an optimal allocation of taxation and expenditures among the governments in the federation. This approach provides insights into the concepts of vertical and horizontal fiscal imbalance, fiscal capacity, and fiscal need. Expressions for the optimal fiscal equalization grant and the optimal vertical fiscal gap are derived. We also show how the marginal cost of public funds affects the optimal matching grant rate for activities that generate expenditure externalities.
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