196 research outputs found

    Environmental Taxation and the "Double Dividend:" A Reader's Guide

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    In recent years there has been great interest in the possibility of substituting environmentally motivated or 'green' taxes for ordinary income taxes. Some have suggested that such revenue-neutral reforms might offer a 'double dividend:' not only (1) improve the environment but also (2) reduce certain costs of the tax system. This paper articulates different notions of 'double dividend' and examines the theoretical and empirical evidence for each. It also draws connections between the double dividend issue and principles of optimal environmetal taxation in a second-best setting. A weak double dividend claim is that returning tax revenues through cuts in distortionary taxes leads to cost savings relative to the case where revenues are returned lump sum. This claim is easily defended on theoretical grounds and (thankfully) receives wide support from numerical simulations.The stronger versions contend that revenue-neutral swaps of environmental taxes for ordinary distortionary taxes involve zero or negative gross costs.Analyses numerical results tend to cast doubt on the strong double dividend claim.Yet the theoretical case against the strong form is not air-tight, and numerical dividend claim is dividend claim is rejected (upheld) are related to the conditions where the second-best optimal environmental tax is less than (greater than) the marginal environmental damages.The difficulty of establishing a strong double dividend claim heightens the importance of attending to and evaluating the (environmental) benefits from environmental taxes.

    Tax Policy, Asset Prices, and Growth: A General Equilibrium Analysis

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    This paper presents a multisector general equilibrium model that is capable of providing integrated assessments of the economy's short- and long- run responses to tax policy changes. The model contains an explicit treatment of firm's investment decisions according to which producers exhibit forward- looking behavior and take account of adjustment costs inherent in the installation of new capital. This permits an examination of both short-run effects of tax policy on industry profits and asset prices as well as 1ong-term effects on capital accumulation. The model contains considerable detail on U.S. industry, corporate financial policies, and the U.S. tax system. Simulation results reveal that the effects of tax policy differ significantly depending on whether the policy is oriented toward new or old capital measures like the investment tax credit stimulate investment without conferring significant windfall gains on corporate shareholders. Corporate tax rate reductions with the same revenue cost, on the other hand, yield large windfalls to shareholders while providing only a modest stimulus to investment in plant and equipment.

    Status Effects, Public Goods Provision, and the Excess Burden

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    Most studies of the optimal provision of public goods or the excess burden from taxation assume that individual utility is independent of other individuals' consumption. This paper investigates public good provision and excess burden in a model that allows for interdependence in consumption in the form of status (relative consumption) effects. In the presence of such effects, consumption and labor taxes no longer are pure distortionary taxes but have a corrective tax element that addresses an externality from consumption. As a result, the marginal excess burden of consumption taxes is lower than in the absence of status effects, and will be negative if the consumption tax rate is below the "Pigouvian" rate. Correspondingly, when consumption or labor tax rates are below the Pigouvian rate, the second-best level of public goods provision is above the first-best level, contrary to findings from models without status effects. For plausible functional forms and parameters relating to status effects, the marginal excess burden from existing U.S. labor taxes is substantially lower than in most prior studies, and is negative in some cases.status effects, excess burden, deadweight loss, public goods provision, corrective taxation, consumption externality, first best, second best

    Savings Promotion, Investment Promotion, and International Competitiveness

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    In an open economy, savings- and investment-promoting policies may have very different effects on the capital account and on the viability of export-oriented and import-competing industries. The nature of the effects is often ambiguous in analytical models. This paper employs a simulation model that combines a detailed treatment of industry interactions, attention to adjustment dynamics, and an integrated treatment of current and capital account transactions to investigate these effects in both the short and long run. We focus on the different effects of savings- and investment-promoting U.S. tax policies on the viability of U.S. export industries. We compare results under the assumption of no international capital mobility (and no international asset transactions) with those under the assumption of full international mobility (which assumes no barriers to or costs of such transactions). Within the case of capital mobility, we consider the importance of the degree of international asset substitutability -- the extent to which individuals respond to differences in anticipated rates of return by altering their portfolios. Simulation results show that the impacts on export industries differ fundamentally depending on the degree of international capital mobility. In the absence of such mobility, savings- and investment- promoting policies have similar effects on U.S. export industries, with insubstantial effects in the short run and larger. beneficial long-run effects that reflect increases in the productiveness of the U.S. economy. Once international capital mobility is accounted for, however, the effects of the two policies differ from one another in both the short and long run. Subsidizing saving helps U.S. export industries initially but hurts them over the longer term. The reverse is true for a policy that subsidizes investment. These differences, which are robust across a range of model specifications and parameter assumptions, stem from the very different implications of the two types of policies for the capital account of the balance of payments.

    Interactions between State and Federal Climate Change Policies

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    Federal action addressing climate change is likely to emerge either through new legislation or via the U.S. EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act. The prospect of federal action raises important questions regarding the interconnections between federal efforts and state-level climate policy developments. In the presence of federal policies, to what extent will state efforts be costeffective? How does the co-existence of state- and federal-level policies affect the ability of state efforts to achieve emissions reductions? This paper addresses these questions. We find that state-level policy in the presence of a federal policy can be beneficial or problematic, depending on the nature of the overlap between the two systems, the relative stringency of the efforts, and the types of policy instruments engaged. When the federal policy sets limits on aggregate emissions quantities, or allows manufacturers or facilities to average performance across states, the emission reductions accomplished by a subset of U.S. states may reduce pressure on the constraints posed by the federal policy, thereby freeing facilities or manufacturers to increase emissions in other states. This leads to serious “emissions leakage” and a loss of cost-effectiveness at the national level. In contrast, when the federal policy sets prices for emissions or does not allow manufactures to average performance across states, these difficulties are usually avoided. Even in circumstances involving problematic interactions, there may be other attractions of state-level climate policy. We evaluate a number of arguments that have been made to support state-level climate policy in the presence of federal policies, even when problematic interactions arise.

    Optimal Environmental Taxation in the Presence of Other Taxes: General Equilibrium Analyses

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    This paper examines the optimal setting of environmental taxes in economies where other, distortionary taxes are present. We employ analytical and numerical models to explore the degree to which, in a second best economy, optimal environmental tax rates differ from the rates implied by the Pigovian principle (according to which the optimal tax rate equals the marginal environmental damages). Both models indicate, contrary to what several analysts have suggested, that the optimal tax rate on emissions of a given pollutant is generally less than the rate supported by the Pigovian principle. Moreover, the optimal rate is lower the larger are the distortions posed by ordinary taxes. Numerical results indicate that previous studies may have seriously overstated the size of the optimal carbon tax by disregarding pre-existing taxes.
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