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Price-neutral Tax Reform With an Informal Economy

  • M. Shahe Emran

    (Dept. of Economics, GWU, & IPD, Columbia University)

  • Joseph E. Stiglitz

    (Columbia University, NBER, & Stanford University)

A strand of recent literature shows that a reform of import tariff (export tax) and consumption tax (production tax) that keeps the consumer (producer) price unchanged enhances welfare and increases revenue under plausible conditions. It has been argued that the results provide an ex-post justification for the widely implemented reform policies in developing countries that reduce trade taxes and increase consumption tax like VAT for revenue. We demonstrate that the results derived so far critically depend on the assumption that there is no informal sector in the economy. Our results show that, when the feasibility restrictions on the tax instruments imposed by the presence of a large informal and shadow economy is taken into account, such consumer or producer price-neutral reform reduces both welfare and revenue under plausible conditions.

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File URL: http://econwpa.repec.org/eps/pe/papers/0407/0407010.pdf
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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Public Economics with number 0407010.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: 18 Jul 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwppe:0407010
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 32
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://econwpa.repec.org

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  1. Emran, M. Shahe, 2005. "Revenue-increasing and welfare-enhancing reform of taxes on exports," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 277-292, June.
  2. M. Shahe Emran & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2002. "On Selective Indirect Tax Reform in Developing Countries," International Trade 0210003, EconWPA.
  3. Michael Keen & Johanna Elisabeth Ligthart, 1999. "Coordinating Tariff Reduction and Domestic Tax Reform," IMF Working Papers 99/93, International Monetary Fund.
  4. Dixit, Avinash, 1985. "Tax policy in open economies," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 313-374 Elsevier.
  5. Michael, Michael S. & Hatzipanayotou, Panos & Miller, Stephen M., 1993. "Integrated reforms of tariffs and consumption taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 417-428, October.
  6. James E. Anderson, 1997. "Trade Reform with a Government Budget Constraint," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 348., Boston College Department of Economics.
  7. Tanzi, Vito & Zee, Howell H., 2000. "Tax Policy for Emerging Markets: Developing Countries," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 53(n. 2), pages 299-322, June.
  8. John Piggott & John Whalley, 2001. "VAT Base Broadening, Self Supply, and the Informal Sector," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1084-1094, September.
  9. Zee, Howell H., 1996. "Empirics of crosscountry tax revenue comparisons," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(10), pages 1659-1671, October.
  10. Abe, Kenzo, 1995. "The Target Rates of Tariff and Tax Reform," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 36(4), pages 875-85, November.
  11. Burgess, Robin & Stern, Nicholas, 1993. "Taxation and Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 762-830, June.
  12. Hatzipanayotou, Panos & Michael, Michael S. & Miller, Stephen M., 1994. "Win-win indirect tax reform : A modest proposal," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 44(1-2), pages 147-151.
  13. Abe, Kenzo, 1992. "Tariff Reform in a Small Open Economy with Public Production," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 33(1), pages 209-22, February.
  14. Panagariya, Arvind, 1992. "Input tariffs, duty drawbacks, and tariff reforms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1-2), pages 131-147, February.
  15. Diewert, W E & Turunen-Red, A H & Woodland, A D, 1989. "Productivity- and Pareto-Improving Changes in Taxes and Tariffs," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(2), pages 199-215, April.
  16. Hatta, Tatsuo, 1977. "A Theory of Piecemeal Policy Recommendations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(1), pages 1-21, February.
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