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Tax Collection in History

Author

Listed:
  • Metin M. Cosgel

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Thomas J. Miceli

    (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

Methods of tax collection employed by modern governments seem dull when compared to the rich variety observed in history. Whereas most governments today typically use salaried agents to collect taxes, various other types of contractual relationships have been observed in history, including sharing arrangements which divide the tax revenue between the government and collectors at fixed proportions, negotiated payment schemes based on the tax base, and sale of the revenue to a collector in exchange for a lump-sum payment determined at auction. We propose an economic theory of tax collection that can coherently explain the temporal and spatial variation in contractual forms. We begin by offering a simple classification of tax collection schemes observed in history. We then develop a general economic model of tax collection that specifies the cost and benefits of alternative schemes and identifies the conditions under which a government would choose one contractual form over another in maximizing the net revenue. Finally, we use the conclusions of the model to explain some of the well-known patterns of tax collection observed in history and how choices varied over time and space.

Suggested Citation

  • Metin M. Cosgel & Thomas J. Miceli, 2007. "Tax Collection in History," Working papers 2007-48, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Sep 2008.
  • Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2007-48
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Douglas W. Allen & Dean Lueck, 1993. "Transaction Costs and the Design of Cropshare Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(1), pages 78-100, Spring.
    2. Mikael Priks, 2005. "Optimal Rent Extraction in Pre-Industrial England and France – Default Risk and Monitoring Costs," CESifo Working Paper Series 1464, CESifo Group Munich.
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    Cited by:

    1. Noel D., Johnson & Mark, Koyama, 2012. "Standardizing the fiscal state: cabal tax farming as an Intermediate Institution in early-modern England and France," MPRA Paper 40403, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Umberto Galmarini & Simone Pellegrino & Massimiliano Piacenza & Gilberto Turati, 2014. "The runaway taxpayer," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 21(3), pages 468-497, June.
    3. Coşgel, Metin M. & Etkes, Haggay & Miceli, Thomas J., 2011. "Private law enforcement, fine sharing, and tax collection: Theory and historical evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 546-552.
    4. Johnson, Noel D. & Koyama, Mark, 2014. "Tax farming and the origins of state capacity in England and France," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 1-20.
    5. Cosgel, Metin & Miceli, Thomas & Ahmed, Rasha, 2009. "Law, state power, and taxation in Islamic history," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 704-717, September.
    6. Belev, Sergei & Zolotareva, Anna & Malayrev, Aleksandr & Sokolov, Ilya, 2015. "Structural Alternatives to the Tax Administration," Published Papers mn13, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration.
    7. Johnson, Noel D. & Koyama, Mark, 2013. "Legal centralization and the birth of the secular state," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 959-978.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Tax collecting; tax farming; share contracts; rent contracts; wage contracts;

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • N40 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - General, International, or Comparative

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