Overlapping Tax Revenue, Local Debt Control and Soft-Budget Constraint
This paper investigates how the soft budget constraint with grants from the central government to local governments tends to internalize the vertical externality by stimulating insufficient local expenditure when both the central and local governments impose taxes on the same economic activities from public investment. The theoretical model incorporates local governments' rent-seeking activities in a multi- government setting with and without central controls on local borrowing. Two channels through debt issuance and public investment cause the soft budget outcome. In the unrestricted scheme of local debt issuance we have the positive effect on public investment and debt issuance although it would also stimulate wasteful rent seeking activities. In the restricted scheme of local debt issuance the soft budget case may not stimulate public investment since its effect through debt issuance is absent. In either case the soft budget constraint is welfare improving if the marginal valuation of central public goods is relatively small and/or the tax share of local government is relatively small.
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