610 research outputs found

    Tax Policies for Low-Carbon Technologies

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    The U.S. tax code provides a number of subsidies for low-carbon technologies. I discuss the difficulties of achieving key policy goals with subsidies as opposed to using taxes to raise the price of pollution-related activities. In particular, subsidies lower the cost of energy (on average) rather than raising it. Thus consumer demand responses work at cross purposed to the goal of reducing emissions (especially as average cost pricing is used for electricity). Second, it is difficult to achieve technology neutrality with subsidies-here defined as an equal subsidy cost per ton of CO2 avoided. Third, many subsidies are inframarginal. Finally, subsidies often suffer from unintended interactions with other policies. I conclude with some observations on the use of price-based instruments. In particular I discuss how a carbon tax could be designed to achieve environmental goals of emission caps over a control period.

    Tax Policy for Financing Alternative Energy Equipment

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    European countries have taken the lead in investigating in renewable energy electricity generating capital. While the EU-15 countries had less than half the installed capacity of the United States in 1990, they currently have more than double the capacity. This study investigates differences in the policy environment between Europe and the United States and identifies key policy differences that impact renewable electricity investment. The review of the European and US experience provides a number of lessons to guide future renewables policy in the United States. First, the European experiment with feed-in tariffs and renewable portfolio standards suggests that feed-in tariffs may dominate RPS systems as effective policy tools to encourage investment. Second, the US preference for tax incentives has clearly not had the same simulative investment impact as have feed-in tariffs. Third, a modest feed-in tariff for wind and biomass would make these technologies cost competitive with natural gas. Fourth, it is clear that considerable research and technological development will be required before solar electricity can compete in the market place regardless of the pricing support policy in place.

    Specification Testing in Panel Data With Instrumental Variables

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    This paper shows a convenient way to test whether instrumental variables are correlated with individual effects in a panel data set. It shows that the correlated fixed effects specification tests developed by Hausman and Taylor (1981) extend in an analogous way to panel data sets with endogenous right hand side variables. In the panel data context, different sets of instrumental variables can be used to construct the test. Asymptotically, I show that the test in many cases is more efficient if an incomplete set of instruments is used. However, in small samples one is likely to do better using the complete set of instruments. Monte Carlo results demonstrate the likely gains for different assumptions about the degree of variance in the data across observations relative to variation across time.

    Value-Added Tax

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    Arbitrage and the Savings Behavior of State Governments

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    The federal tax code creates strong incentives for tax arbitrage activity on the part of state governments. This arbitrage activity is illegal and previous research has typically assumed that the constraint against arbitrage activity is binding. This paper explicitly tests this proposition by considering whether financial asset holdings increase as the yield spread between taxable and tax exempt securities rises. Using a data set on 40 state governments over a 7 year period, I find that there is a significant response to changes in the yield spread. One implication of these results is that the Tax Reform Act of 1986 which made even greater efforts to curb arbitrage activity is likely to be ineffective.

    Pollution Taxes in a Second-Best World

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    It is a pleasure to address this group today. I have decided to spend my time discussing recent issues involved in setting environmental taxes in a second-best world. This is an area that has seen an explosion of research and new insights over the past decade and also an area with which many EU countries (as well as candidate EU countries) have been grappling. The basic message of my talk (if there is one) is that the policy prescriptions that most of us learned when studying environmental policy in isolation (that is, in partial equilibrium) often must be significantly adapted once one moves to a general equilibrium framework with pre-existing distortions. Put this way, there is nothing novel here; it is simply a restatement of the Theorem of the Second Best (Lipsey and Lancaster (1956-1957)). This, however, risks trivializing the literature of the past decade. As a contributor to that literature, I'd prefer not to do that. More to the point, there are some very interesting results that bear discussion.

    Investment in Energy Infrastructure and the Tax Code

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    Federal tax policy provides a broad array of incentives for energy investment. I review those policies and construct estimates of marginal effective tax rates for different energy capital investments as of 2007. Effective tax rates vary widely across investment classes. I then consider investment in wind generation capital and regress investment against a user cost of capital measure along with other controls. I find that wind investment is strongly responsive to changes in tax policy. Based on the coefficient estimates the elasticity of investment with respect to the user cost of capital is in the range of -1 to -2. I also demonstrate that the federal production tax credit plays a key role in driving wind investment over the past eighteen years.electricity, wind power, production tax credits, tax subsidies
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