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Tax competition and fiscal democracy
How does international tax competition affect fiscal democracy? To what extent does it constrain the autonomy of democratic governments in choosing the level and structure of national taxation? While tax competition has not reduced the level of total taxation in OECD-22 countries, it has revenue effects at the level of selected taxes, especially taxes falling on mobile tax bases such as the corporate tax or taxes on private capital income. The nominal tax burden has shifted from capital to labor and consumption (domestic redistribution). While this result suggests that tax competition has a negative effect on national tax autonomy, because all competing countries see their ability to tax mobile capital constrained, small countries see their capacity to raise revenue from mobile capital increased at the expense of large countries (international redistribution). Because of these countervailing effects, the overall effect on small countries is ambiguous. By contrast, the tax autonomy of large countries has unambiguously declined because international and domestic pressures work in the same direction. Given that governments have to meet mandatory spending requirements on the expenditure side this may have contributed to higher fiscal deficits in large countries.
No. 161/2012
Philipp Genschel
Peter Schwarz

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