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How Fiscal Decentralization Flattens Progressive Taxes

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  • Roland Hodler
  • Kurt Schmidheiny

Abstract

We study the tension between fiscal decentralization and progressive taxation. We present a multi-community model in which the local income tax rate is determined by an exogenous progressive tax schedule and a tax shifter that can differ across communities. The progressivity of the tax schedule induces a self-sorting process that results in substantial though imperfect income sorting. Rich households are more likely to locate themselves in low tax communities than poor households. The actual tax structure is thus less progressive than the exogenous tax schedule. To investigate the quantitative implications of our model, we calibrate a fully-specified version to the largest metropolitan area in Switzerland. The equilibrium values of the simulation show the same pattern across communities as we observe in this area. The theoretical result is challenged by estimating the actual tax structure faced by the households in this area. We find that the actual tax structure is indeed substantially less progressive than the fixed tax schedule.

Suggested Citation

  • Roland Hodler & Kurt Schmidheiny, 2005. "How Fiscal Decentralization Flattens Progressive Taxes," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0508, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  • Handle: RePEc:tuf:tuftec:0508
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    1. repec:jns:jbstat:v:237:y:2017:i:3:p:225-273:n:5 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Ioannides, Yannis M. & Soetevent, Adriaan R., 2007. "Social networking and individual outcomes beyond the mean field case," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 64(3-4), pages 369-390.
    3. Frey, Christian & Schaltegger, Christoph A., 2016. "Progressive taxes and top income shares: A historical perspective on pre- and post-tax income concentration in Switzerland," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 148(C), pages 5-9.
    4. Stossberg Sibylle & Blöchliger Hansjörg, 2017. "Fiscal Decentralisation and Income Inequality: Empirical Evidence from OECD Countries," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 237(3), pages 225-273, June.
    5. Darlene Chisholm & Margaret McMillan & George Norman, 2010. "Product differentiation and film-programming choice: do first-run movie theatres show the same films?," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, pages 131-145.
    6. Gilbert Metcalf & Jongsang Park, 2007. "A comment on the role of prices for excludable public goods," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 14(6), pages 685-698, December.
    7. Christoph Basten & Maximilian Ehrlich & Andrea Lassmann, 2017. "Income Taxes, Sorting and the Costs of Housing: Evidence from Municipal Boundaries in Switzerland," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0(601), pages 653-687, May.
    8. Kai Konrad & Stergios Skaperdas, 2012. "The market for protection and the origin of the state," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), pages 417-443.
    9. Schaltegger, Christoph A. & Somogyi, Frank & Sturm, Jan-Egbert, 2011. "Tax competition and income sorting: Evidence from the Zurich metropolitan area," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 455-470, September.
    10. Schmidheiny, Kurt, 2006. "Income segregation and local progressive taxation: Empirical evidence from Switzerland," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(3), pages 429-458, February.
    11. Brülhart, Marius & Bucovetsky, Sam & Schmidheiny, Kurt, 2015. "Taxes in Cities," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.
    12. Roller, Marcus & Schmidheiny, Kurt, 2016. "Effective Tax Rates and Effective Progressivity in a Fiscally Decentralized Country," CEPR Discussion Papers 11152, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. Christoph Basten & Maximilian von Ehrlich & Andrea Lassmann, 2014. "Income Taxes, Sorting, and the Costs of Housing," KOF Working papers 14-362, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
    14. Sergii Slukhai, 2009. "Inter-Location Small Business Tax Rate Variation in Ukraine: What Is Behind It?," Financial Theory and Practice, Institute of Public Finance, vol. 33(1), pages 49-71.
    15. Marcus Roller & Kurt Schmidheiny, 2014. "Mobility and Progressive Taxation," ERSA conference papers ersa14p1354, European Regional Science Association.
    16. Darlene C. Chisholm & George Norman, 2006. "When to Exit a Product: Evidence from the U. S. Motion-Picture Exhibition Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 57-61, May.
    17. Antoni Calvo-Armengol & Yannis M. Ioannides, 2005. "Social Networks in Labor Markets," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0517, Department of Economics, Tufts University.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Progressive Taxation; Fiscal Decentralization; Income Segregation;

    JEL classification:

    • H73 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Interjurisdictional Differentials and Their Effects
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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