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Business taxes and the electoral cycle

  • Foremny, Dirk
  • Riedel, Nadine

The purpose of this paper is to assess whether politicians manipulate the timing of tax rate changes in a strategic way to maximize reelection prospects. To do so, we exploit the German local business tax as a testing ground which is set autonomously by German municipalities. As election dates vary across local councils, the data allows us to disentangle effects related to the timing of elections from common trends. Using a rich panel data-set for German municipalities, we assess the impact of elections on local business tax choices. The findings support the notion of a political cycle in tax setting behavior as the growth rate of the local business tax is significantly reduced in the election year and the year prior to the election, while it jumps up in the year after the election. This pattern turns out to be robust against a number of sensitivity checks.

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Paper provided by University of Hohenheim, Center for Research on Innovation and Services (FZID) in its series FZID Discussion Papers with number 43-2012.

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Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:zbw:fziddp:432012
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  1. Linda Veiga & Francisco Veiga, 2004. "Political business cycles at the municipal level," ERSA conference papers ersa04p427, European Regional Science Association.
  2. Wilson, John Douglas, 1999. "Theories of Tax Competition," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 2), pages 269-304, June.
  3. Ronald Kneebone & Kenneth McKenzie, 2001. "Electoral and Partisan Cycles in Fiscal Policy: An Examination of Canadian Provinces," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 8(5), pages 753-774, November.
  4. Matz Dahlberg & Eva Mörk, 2011. "Is there an election cycle in public employment? Separating time effects from election year effects," Working Papers 2011/8, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
  5. Devereux, M.P. & Lockwood, B. & Redoano, M., 2007. "Horizontal and vertical indirect tax competition: Theory and some evidence from the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(3-4), pages 451-479, April.
  6. A. Colin Cameron & Jonah B. Gelbach & Douglas L. Miller, 2006. "Robust Inference with Multi-way Clustering," NBER Technical Working Papers 0327, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Kenneth Rogoff & Anne Sibert, 1986. "Elections and Macroeconomic Policy Cycles," NBER Working Papers 1838, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Arulampalam, Wiji & Devereux, Michael P. & Maffini, Giorgia, 2012. "The direct incidence of corporate income tax on wages," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(6), pages 1038-1054.
  11. Schuknecht, Ludger, 2000. " Fiscal Policy Cycles and Public Expenditure in Developing Countries," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 102(1-2), pages 115-30, January.
  12. Michael A. Nelson, 2000. "Electoral Cycles and the Politics of State Tax Policy," Public Finance Review, , vol. 28(6), pages 540-560, November.
  13. Alberto Alesina & Nouriel Roubini & Gerald D. Cohen, 1997. "Political Cycles and the Macroeconomy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262510944, June.
  14. John Mikesell, 1978. "Election periods and state tax policy cycles," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 33(3), pages 99-106, January.
  15. Buettner, Thiess, 2003. "Tax base effects and fiscal externalities of local capital taxation: evidence from a panel of German jurisdictions," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 110-128, July.
  16. Lindbeck, Assar, 1976. "Stabilization Policy in Open Economies with Endogenous Politicians," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 1-19, May.
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