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Differentiated Excise Taxation in the Beer Market

Seungjin Han () and Josip Lesica

Department of Economics Working Papers from McMaster University

Abstract: This paper studies excise tax policy that applies different tax rates to differentiated products. We propose a general method, from the revealed preferences perspective, that allows the identification of the policy maker’s unobserved preferences when setting excise tax rates. We use it to evaluate excise beer tax policy in the Canadian province of Ontario, which differentially taxes local craft beer and large manufacturers’ beer. We identify the government’s preferences over the total surplus and net externalities associated with the production and consumption of different types of beer products. The results show that the government believes the positive externality associated with the production of local craft beer, outweighs the negative externality associated with its consumption, whereas it goes the other way around for large manufacturers’ beer. This means that the government’s subjective per-litre cost of reducing the equilibrium consumption through local craft beer is significantly higher than through the large manufacturers’ beer. The observed gap in excise taxes is aligned with the discrepancy in the percentage decreases in equilibrium quantities of two types of beer with respect to a dollar increase in own excise tax, respectively, given different beer market sizes. We also identify the increasing share of local craft beer consumption with respect to household income as a unique source of the regressiveness of the differentiated excise taxes. The regressiveness does not seem large in terms of the extra tax payment imposed on lower-income households even though the regressiveness of the effective tax rate itself is not insignificant.

Keywords: beer; differentiated excise taxation; net externalities; optimal taxation; revealed preferences; regressiveness of taxation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D12 D62 H21 H23 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 45 pages
Date: 2021-11
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hea, nep-pbe and nep-pub
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Handle: RePEc:mcm:deptwp:2021-10