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Global markets, national tax systems, and domestic politics: Rebalancing efficiency and equity in open states' income taxation

  • Ganghof, Steffen
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    Competitive pressure on some capital income tax rates reinforces a generic quadrilemma or a four-way tradeoff in domestic income taxation. To maintain competitiveness, governments have to cut some tax rates on capital income down to international standards. If these cuts lead to a de-alignment of different rates on capital income, domestic allocation becomes more inefficient, all else being equal. Cutting all tax rates on capital income to a uniform low level, while maintaining high and progressive tax rates on labor incomes, avoids this inefficiency, but sacrifices comprehensive income taxation, that is, joint and equal taxation of capital and labor incomes. Finally, reducing all income tax rates to international standards, including top rates on labor income, implies a strong significant reduction in the progressiveness of labor income taxation (and/or significant revenue losses). As a result, governments that aim at all four goals - competitiveness, allocative efficiency, horizontal equity (comprehensive income taxation) and progressivity - and want to maintain a given revenue level cannot avoid seriously compromising one of them. This paper analyzes how this income tax quadrilemma has played out in seven OECD countries: Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden. Combining the results of this matched comparison with exploratory data analysis for all OECD countries, the paper discusses the general implications of the quadrilemma for the domestic political economy of tax competition and the future of domestic compensation in open states.

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    Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in its series MPIfG Discussion Paper with number 01/9.

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    Date of creation: 2001
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgd:019
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    1. Paul van den Noord, 2000. "The Tax System in Norway: Past Reforms and Future Challenges," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 244, OECD Publishing.
    2. Honkapohja, Seppo & Koskela, Erkki, 2002. "The Economic Crisis of the 1990s in Finland," Discussion Papers 683, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    3. Kenworthy, Lane, 2002. "Do affluent countries face an income-jobs tradeoff?," MPIfG Discussion Paper 01/10, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    4. Quiggin, John, 1998. "Social Democracy and Market Reform in Australia and New Zealand," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(1), pages 76-95, Spring.
    5. Paul van den Noord & Chistopher Heady, 2001. "Surveillance of Tax Policies: A Synthesis of Findings in Economic Surveys," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 303, OECD Publishing.
    6. Stefan Homburg, 2000. "German Tax Reform 2000. Description and Appraisal," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 57(4), pages 504-513, August.
    7. Ugo Colombino & Steinar Strøm & Rolf Aaberge, 2000. "Labor supply responses and welfare effects from replacing current tax rules by a flat tax: Empirical evidence from Italy, Norway and Sweden," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 595-621.
    8. Steve Bond & Lucy Chennells & Michael Devereux, 1995. "Company dividends and taxes in the UK," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 16(3), pages 1-18, August.
    9. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521021807 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Günther G. Schulze & Heinrich W. Ursprung, 1999. "Globalisation of the Economy and the Nation State," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(3), pages 295-352, 05.
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