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The Design of a Carbon Tax

  • Gilbert Metcalf
  • David Weisbach

We consider the design of a tax on greenhouse gas emissions for a developed country such as the United States. We consider three sets of issues: the optimal tax base, issues relating to the rate (including the use of the revenues and rate changes over time) and trade. We show that a well-designed carbon tax can capture about 80% of U.S. emissions by taxing fewer than 3,000 taxpayers and up to almost 90% with a modest additional cost. We recommend full or partial delegation of rate setting authority to an agency to ensure that rates reflect new information about the costs of carbon emmissions and of abatement. Adjustments should be made to the income tax to ensure that a carbon tax is revenue neutral and distributionally neutral. Finally, we propose an origin-based system for trades with countries that have an adequate carbon tax. We suggest a system that imposes presumptive border tax adjustments with the ability of an individual firm to prove that a different rate should apply. The presumptive tax could be based either on average emissions for production of the item by the exporting country or by the importing country.

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File URL: http://ase.tufts.edu/econ/research/documents/2008/metcalfCarbonTax.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Tufts University in its series Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University with number 0727.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:tuf:tuftec:0727
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Web page: http://ase.tufts.edu/economics

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  1. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2007. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 13330, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Metcalf, Gilbert E. & Reilly, John M., 2008. "Policy Options form Controlling Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Implications for Agriculture," Choices, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 23(1).
  3. Kaplow, Louis & Shavell, Steven, 2002. "Economic analysis of law," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 25, pages 1661-1784 Elsevier.
  4. Kevin A. Hassett & Gilbert E. Metcalf, 1992. "Energy Tax Credits and Residential Conservation Investment," NBER Working Papers 4020, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Amy Finkelstein, 2009. "E-ZTAX: Tax Salience and Tax Rates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(3), pages 969-1010, August.
  6. Hoel, Michael & Karp, Larry, 2002. "Taxes versus quotas for a stock pollutant," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 367-384, November.
  7. Gilbert E. Metcalf, 2006. "Federal Tax Policy Towards Energy," NBER Working Papers 12568, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Mitchell Polinsky, A. & Shavell, Steven, 1982. "Pigouvian taxation with administrative costs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 385-394, December.
  9. 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.
  10. Louis Kaplow, 2004. "On the Undesirability of Commodity Taxation Even When Income Taxation is Not Optimal," NBER Working Papers 10407, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Carlson, Curtis & Metcalf, Gilbert E., 2008. "Energy Tax Incentives and the Alternative Minimum Tax," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 61(3), pages 477-91, September.
  12. Corrado Di Maria & Edwin van der Werf, 2006. "Carbon Leakage Revisited: Unilateral Climate Policy with Directed Technical Change," Working Papers 2006.94, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  13. Kevin A. Hasset & Aparna Mathur & Gilbert Metcalf, 2007. "The Incidence of a U.S. Carbon Tax: A Lifetime and Regional Analysis," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0714, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  14. Bovenberg, A. Lans & Goulder, Lawrence H., 2002. "Environmental taxation and regulation," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 23, pages 1471-1545 Elsevier.
  15. Don Fullerton & Gilbert E. Metcalf, 1997. "Environmental Taxes and the Double Dividends Hypothesis: Did You Really Expect Something for Nothing?," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 9706, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  16. Sergey Paltsev & John M. Reilly & Henry D. Jacoby & Angelo C. Gurgel & Gilbert E. Metcalf & Andrei P. Sokolov & Jennifer F. Holak, 2007. "Assessment of U.S. Cap-and-Trade Proposals," NBER Working Papers 13176, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. M. L. Weitzman, 1973. "Prices vs. Quantities," Working papers 106, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  18. Hassett, Kevin A. & Metcalf, Gilbert E., 1995. "Energy tax credits and residential conservation investment: Evidence from panel data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 201-217, June.
  19. Ian W. H. Parry & Kenneth A. Small, 2005. "Does Britain or the United States Have the Right Gasoline Tax?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1276-1289, September.
  20. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1976. "The design of tax structure: Direct versus indirect taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 55-75.
  21. Lawrence H. Goulder & Ian W. H. Parry & Dallas Burtraw, 1996. "Revenue-Raising vs. Other Approaches to Environmental Protection: The Critical Significance of Pre-Existing Tax Distortions," NBER Working Papers 5641, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Gilbert E. Metcalf & Sergey Paltsev & John Reilly & Henry Jacoby & Jennifer F. Holak, 2008. "Analysis of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Tax Proposals," NBER Working Papers 13980, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Ekins, Paul & Barker, Terry, 2001. " Carbon Taxes and Carbon Emissions Trading," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(3), pages 325-76, July.
  24. Roberts, Marc J. & Spence, Michael, 1976. "Effluent charges and licenses under uncertainty," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(3-4), pages 193-208.
  25. Larry Karp & Jiangfeng Zhang, 2005. "Regulation of Stock Externalities with Correlated Abatement Costs," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 32(2), pages 273-300, October.
  26. Baranzini, Andrea & Goldemberg, Jose & Speck, Stefan, 2000. "A future for carbon taxes," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 395-412, March.
  27. Babiker, Mustafa H., 2005. "Climate change policy, market structure, and carbon leakage," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 421-445, March.
  28. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521875684 is not listed on IDEAS
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