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Taxation incentives and deadweight loss in a system of intergovernmental transfers

  • Michael Smart

Intergovernmental transfer programs in many federal systems, including Canada, attempt to equalize differences in subnational jurisdictions' tax capacities on the basis of the so-called representative tax system (RTS). It is shown that RTS equalization grants effectively compensate local governments for a portion of the deadweight loss associated with taxes, and consequently the grants may tend to increase the distortionary tax rates chosen by local governments. This may be the case even when equalization is confined to tax bases which are themselves non-distortionary, such as the taxation of pure economic rents. These insights are then applied to a discussion of the design of an optimal revenue-sharing scheme for a federation, given the implementation constraints facing the central government.

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File URL: http://www.economics.utoronto.ca/public/workingPapers/UT-ECIPA-MSMART-96-03.ps
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File URL: http://www.economics.utoronto.ca/public/workingPapers/UT-ECIPA-MSMART-96-03.pdf
File Function: MainText
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University of Toronto, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number msmart-96-03.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: 22 Jul 1996
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:msmart-96-03
Contact details of provider: Postal: 150 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario
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  1. B. Dahlby & L. S. Wilson, 1994. "Fiscal Capacity, Tax Effort, and Optimal Equalization Grants," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 27(3), pages 657-72, August.
  2. Mintz, Jack & Tulkens, Henry, 1986. "Commodity tax competition between member states of a federation: equilibrium and efficiency," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 133-172, March.
  3. Robin W. Boadway & Frank R. Flatters, 1982. "Efficiency and Equalization Payments in a Federal System of Government: A Synthesis and Extension of Recent Results," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 15(4), pages 613-33, November.
  4. Milgrom, P. & Shannon, C., 1991. "Monotone Comparative Statics," Papers 11, Stanford - Institute for Thoretical Economics.
  5. Wildasin, David E, 1991. "Income Redistribution in a Common Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 757-74, September.
  6. Flatters, Frank & Henderson, Vernon & Mieszkowski, Peter, 1974. "Public goods, efficiency, and regional fiscal equalization," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 99-112, May.
  7. Boadway, Robin, 1982. "On the Method of Taxation and the Provision of Local Public Goods: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(4), pages 846-51, September.
  8. Thomas J. Courchene & David A. Beavis, 1973. "Federal-Provincial Tax Equalization: An Evaluation," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 6(4), pages 483-502, November.
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