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Tax competition with asymmetric endowments in fossil resources

Max Franks and Kai Lessmann

VfS Annual Conference 2019 (Leipzig): 30 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall - Democracy and Market Economy from Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association

Abstract: This paper contributes to the theoretical understanding of strategic interactions of governments on global factor markets. We analyze carbon taxes and subsidies and their impact on national welfare in a fiscal federalism setting with international markets for capital and fossil resources, and asymmetric resource endowments. We have four contributions. First, we show that resource poor countries have an incentive to tax the use of fossil fuels to appropriate the resource rent. Resource rich countries subsidize fossil fuel use to attract production factors in order to increase national income. Second, we demonstrate that capital mobility has a taming effect on the incentives to tax and to subsidize resources. When taxing resources not only affects the international resource market, but also the international capital market, taxation is more distortionary and is thus more costly to governments. Third, while other studies of asymmetric tax competition find that small countries in terms of population are winners of tax competition, we show that with asymmetric resource endowments but a symmetric population size, there are no winners. Then, the Nash equilibrium of carbon tax competition is the least desirable outcome in terms of social welfare. A game structure similar to a Prisoner's Dilemma emerges. Fourth, we characterize the option space for Pareto improvements over the Nash equilibrium.

Keywords: Tax competition; capital mobility; strategic instrument choice; carbon pricing; capital tax (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: F20 H23 Q37 Q38 R13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ure
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