DESIGNING TAX POLICY IN FEDERALIST ECONOMIES: AN OVERVIEW
The emerging economic federations of the European Union, Russia, and South Africa, along with the established federations in Australia, Canada, and the United States, confront the task of designing the institutions for federal fiscal policy. This paper reviews the literature on the design of tax policy in federalist economies. We conclude that taxation by lower level governments can lead to significant economic inefficiencies and inequities. The usual "assignment" view of federalism recommends central government policies -- for example, resident-based taxation or grants-in-aid -- to correct these failures. These recommendations assume the central government will act as a benevolent social planner. The "political economy" view of federalism suggests that this assumption is in error and that additional federalist institutions must be considered. Alternative legislative structures and constitutional rules are considered.
Robert P. Inman, University of Pennsylvania
Daniel L. Rubinfeld, University of California, Berkeley
Forthcoming: Journal of Public Economics