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From transfers to tax "co-occupation": the Italian reform of intergovernmental finance

Ernesto Longobardi ()

No 38, SERIES from Dipartimento di Economia e Finanza - Università degli Studi di Bari "Aldo Moro"

Abstract: The paper provides some insights into the current reform of the system of intergovernmental relations in Italy. A most relevant change is the abolition of transfers from a higher level of government as an ordinary means of finance for sub-central governments, with the exception of grants having an explicit equalisation purpose. Since the room for autonomous local taxes is quite narrow, transfers are going to be substituted, to a large extent, by different forms of "co-occupation" of central taxes. Using the OECD taxonomy about tax autonomy, it is shown that the effective increase in "infra-marginal" tax autonomy of sub-central governments brought about by the reform will be quite modest. At the margin, however, where autonomy really matters, there could be enough room for the exercise of effective discretion. The main problem is that both the central and the sub-central governments fear the decentralisation of tax power. The former because it feels that, at least in the transitional period, the electorate might not properly distinguish the different fiscal responsibilities; the latter because they would prefer not to tax their electorate, notwithstanding their preferences for more stable and predictable sources of finance with respect to the current system.

Keywords: Intergovernmental finance; decentralisation; tax assignment; tax autonomy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: H71 H77 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2011-12, Revised 2011-12
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