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On the measurement of environmental taxes

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Abstract

The purpose of environmental taxes is to correct the market when it fails to take environmental damages into account, i.e. to internalize the Pigouvian element. In addition, fiscal taxes are levied on both polluting and clean goods, which may follow the Ramsey principle. In practical policy, environmental and fiscal taxes are conceptually intertwined. This mixture complicates the calculation of the extent and the evaluation of the effects of environmental taxes. Eurostat, OECD and IEA include all taxes related to energy, transport and pollution, and most resource taxes in their international measurement of environmentally related taxes. Consequently, numerous fiscal taxes are added together with the environmental taxes. This article discusses the distinctions between the Pigouvian and the fiscal taxes in light of tax theory. The revenues following the Eurostat et al. statistical basis deviate significantly from the revenues from the environmental taxes defined on the basis of theory. Steps should be taken to harmonize the international statistics of environmental taxes with economic tax theory.

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  • Annegrete Bruvoll, 2009. "On the measurement of environmental taxes," Discussion Papers 599, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:599
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    File URL: http://www.ssb.no/a/publikasjoner/pdf/DP/dp599.pdf
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    1. Diamond, Peter A & Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "Optimal Taxation and Public Production: I--Production Efficiency," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 8-27.
    2. Bruvoll, Annegrete & Larsen, Bodil Merethe, 2004. "Greenhouse gas emissions in Norway: do carbon taxes work?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 493-505, March.
    3. Torstein Bye & Annegrete Bruvoll, 2008. "Multiple instruments to change energy behaviour: The emperor's new clothes?," Discussion Papers 549, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    4. European Commission, 2008. "Taxation trends in the European Union: 2008 edition," Taxation trends 2008, Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission.
    5. Ekins, Paul, 1999. "European environmental taxes and charges: recent experience, issues and trends," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 39-62, October.
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    Keywords

    Environmental taxes; Fiscal taxes; Pigou taxes; Ramsey taxes;

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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