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Income tax deduction of commuting expenses and tax funding in an urban CGE study: the case of German cities

  • Georg Hirte

    ()

  • Stefan Tscharaktschiew

Germany like many other European countries subsidize commuting by granting the right to deduct commuting expenses from the income tax base. This regulation has often been changed and has regularly been under debate during the last decades. The pros (e.g. causing efficiency gains with respect to the spatial allocation of labor) and cons (e.g. causing urban sprawl) are well documented. Nonetheless, there is need for further research. For reasons of tractability the few models applied in the tax deduction related literature are based on restrictive assumptions particularly concerning the design of the income taxation scheme and the structure of households (neglecting household heterogeneity) and, most importantly, they do not integrate labor supply and location decision problems simultaneously. Here, for the first time, those and more features are taken into account in a full spatial general equilibrium simulation approach calibrated to an average German city. This model is applied to calculate the impacts of tax deductions on an urban economy thereby considering different funding schemes. Our results suggest that the tax deduction level currently chosen is below the optimal level in the case of income tax funding. If a change in the tax base occurs, e.g. toward consumption tax or energy tax funding, the optimal size of the subsidy should be even higher. Furthermore, the different policy packages cause a very differentiated pattern regarding welfare distribution, environmental (COâ‚‚ emissions) and congestion effects. We also find surprisingly small effects on urban sprawl characterized by suburbanization of residences and jobs and increasing commuting distances.

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Paper provided by European Regional Science Association in its series ERSA conference papers with number ersa11p274.

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Date of creation: Sep 2011
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Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa11p274
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  1. Borck, Rainald & Wrede, Matthias, 2008. "Commuting subsidies with two transport modes," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 841-848, May.
  2. Tscharaktschiew, Stefan & Hirte, Georg, 2011. "Should subsidies to urban passenger transport be increased? A spatial CGE analysis for a German metropolitan area," Dresden Discussion Paper Series in Economics 01/11, Dresden University of Technology, Faculty of Business and Economics, Department of Economics.
  3. Parry, Ian W.H. & Small, Kenneth, 2007. "Should Urban Transit Subsidies Be Reduced?," Discussion Papers dp-07-38, Resources For the Future.
  4. Matthias Wrede, 2009. "A Distortive Wage Tax and a Countervailing Commuting Subsidy," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 11(2), pages 297-310, 04.
  5. Borck, Rainald & Wrede, Matthias, 2009. "Subsidies for intracity and intercity commuting," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 25-32, July.
  6. Brueckner, Jan K., 2005. "Transport subsidies, system choice, and urban sprawl," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(6), pages 715-733, November.
  7. Parry, Ian W.H. & Bento, Antonio Miguel R., 1999. "Revenue recycling and the welfare effects of road pricing," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2253, The World Bank.
  8. Wolfram F. Richter, 2004. "Efficiency Effects of Tax Deductions for Work-Related Expenses," CESifo Working Paper Series 1311, CESifo Group Munich.
  9. Stefan Bach, 2003. "Entfernungspauschale: Kürzung gerechtfertigt," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 70(40), pages 602-608.
  10. Tscharaktschiew, Stefan & Hirte, Georg, 2009. "How does the household structure shape the urban economy?," Dresden Discussion Paper Series in Economics 07/09, Dresden University of Technology, Faculty of Business and Economics, Department of Economics.
  11. Anas, Alex, 1990. "Taste heterogeneity and urban spatial structure: The logit model and monocentric theory reconciled," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 318-335, November.
  12. Rainald Borck & Matthias Wrede, 2004. "Political Economy of Commuting Subsidies," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 445, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  13. Alex Anas & Hyok-Joo Rhee, 2004. "Curbing Excess Sprawl with Congestion Tolls and Urban Boundaries," Urban/Regional 0408004, EconWPA.
  14. Bruno De Borger & Bart Wuyts, 2009. "Commuting, Transport Tax Reform and the Labour Market: Employer-paid Parking and the Relative Efficiency of Revenue Recycling Instruments," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 46(1), pages 213-233, January.
  15. Wrede, Matthias, 2001. "Should Commuting Expenses Be Tax Deductible? A Welfare Analysis," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 80-99, January.
  16. Anas, Alex & Xu, Rong, 1999. "Congestion, Land Use, and Job Dispersion: A General Equilibrium Model," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 451-473, May.
  17. Thomas J. Nechyba & Randall P. Walsh, 2004. "Urban Sprawl," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(4), pages 177-200, Fall.
  18. Gutiérrez-i-Puigarnau, Eva & van Ommeren, Jos, 2010. "Labour Supply and Commuting," IZA Discussion Papers 4798, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  19. Zenou, Yves, 2000. "Urban unemployment, agglomeration and transportation policies," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 97-133, July.
  20. Wolfram F. Richter & Peter Bareis & Matthias Wrede & Martin Gasche, 2004. "Ist die Abschaffung der Entfernungspauschale ökonomisch sinnvoll?," Ifo Schnelldienst, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 57(05), pages 5-19, 03.
  21. repec:ces:ifosdt:v::y:2004:i::p:5-19 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Tscharaktschiew, Stefan & Hirte, Georg, 2010. "The drawbacks and opportunities of carbon charges in metropolitan areas -- A spatial general equilibrium approach," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 339-357, December.
  23. Kleven, Henrik Jacobsen, 2004. "Optimum taxation and the allocation of time," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(3-4), pages 545-557, March.
  24. Richard Arnott & Alex Anas & Kenneth Small, 1997. "Urban Spatial Structure," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 388., Boston College Department of Economics.
  25. Schulze, Sven, 2009. "Einige Beobachtungen zum Pendlerverhalten in Deutschland," HWWI Policy Papers 1-19, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).
  26. Anas, Alex & Rhee, Hyok-Joo, 2007. "When are urban growth boundaries not second-best policies to congestion tolls?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 263-286, March.
  27. Matthias Wrede, 2000. "Tax Deductibility of Commuting Expenses and Leisures: On the Tax Treatment of Time-Saving Expenditure," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 57(2), pages 216-, March.
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