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Impuestos y distribución del ingreso en Chile. Un poco de aritmética redistributiva desagradable

Eduardo Engel (), Alexander Galetovic and Claudio Raddatz
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Alexander Galetovic: Centro de Economía Aplicada (CEA), Deapartamento de ingeniería industrial, Universidad de Chile, Santiago

El Trimestre Económico, 2003, vol. LXX (4), issue 280, 745-790

Abstract: This paper quantifies the direct impact of taxes on income distribution at the household level in Chile and estimates the distributional effect of several changes in the tax structure. We find that income distributions before and after taxes are very similar (Gini coefficients of 0.488 and 0.496, respectively). Moreover, radical modifications of the tax structure, such as raising the value added tax from 18 to 25% or substituting a 20% flat tax for the present progressive income tax affect the after-tax distribution only slightly. We present some arithmetic showing that the scope for direct income redistribution through progressivity of the tax system is rather limited. By contrast, for parameter values observed in Chile, and possibly in most developing countries, the targeting of expenditure and the level of the average tax rate are far more important determinants of income distribution after government transfers. Thus, a high-yield progressive tax. Moreover, a simple model shows that the optimal tax system is biased against progressive taxes and towards proportional taxes, with a bias that grows with the degree of inequality of pre-tax incomes. Our results suggest that to reduce income inequality , the focus of discussion should be on the amount to be redistributed, the targeting of public spending, and the relative efficiency of alternative taxes, and not on the progressivity of the tax system.// Este artículo calcula el efecto distributivo en los hogares de los impuestos vigentes en Chile. La distribución del ingreso antes y después de impuestos es muy similar (Gini de 0.488 y 0.496). Más aún, cambios drásticos de la estructura tributaria apenas afectan la distribución posimpuestos. Mostramos que el margen para redistribuir ingresos con impuestos progresivos es muy limitado. Por lo contrario, el destino del gasto del gobierno y la tasa media de impuestos tiene un efecto mucho mayor y reducen significativamente la desigualdad. Concluimos que la discusión sobre redistribución debería centrarse en el monto por redistribuir, el destino del gasto y la eficiencia relativa de los distintos impuestos, y no en la progresividad del sistema tributario.

Keywords: distrubución del ingreso; progresividad; focalización; impuestos (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: H22 H24 H29 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:elt:journl:v:70:y:2003:i:280:p:745-790