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When) is Consumption Taxation Equivalent to Wage Taxation ?

Miguel-Angel Lopez-Garcia ()

Public Finance Review, 1997, vol. 25, issue 1, 83-101

Abstract: This article deals with the question of the equivalence between consumption taxationand wage income taxation. It is argued that when individuals behave according to strict life-cycle reasons, these taxes are not equivalent in either of the standard senses. Although a balanced-budget increase in the wage tax unambiguously de creases the steady-state capital-labor ratio, a balanced-budget increase in the consumption tax may have any impact on long-run capital accumulation. A differential incidence shift from wage to consumption taxation is associated with a higher value of the steady-state capital-labor ratio and increases welfare when the starting point is a dynamically efficient steady state. However, in the presence of intergen erational altruism, consumption and wage taxes are structurally equivalent (i.e., both in balanced-budget terms and under a differential incidence approach). An increase in any of them entails no effect on the steady-state capital-labor ratio and welfare level, with the only consequence of transferring resources away from the private sector and to the government.

Date: 1997
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