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Optimal Indirect Taxation under Imperfect Competition

发布日期:2010-11-09 09:28    来源:北京大学国家发展研究院


Optimal Indirect Taxation under Imperfect Competition*


Hao Wang

Associate Professor

China Center for Economic Research

Peking University


No. E2010016    November 9, 2010


Abstract: This paper considers a simple general equilibrium model of indirect taxation under imperfect competition.  Tax revenue is viewed as the rent of government coercion power and gross profit is viewed as the rent of market power.  A government maximizes consumer surplus conditional on a certain amount of rent being collected.  In contrast with many models in the literature, this model assumes that the government and consumers make their decisions simultaneously, which means the government cannot commit to a tax structure through its “first-mover advantage”.  It is found that when all commodities are taxable, the optimal indirect taxes should equalize the after-tax Lerner indexes of all commodities.  When consumers’ labor supplies are sufficiently inelastic, the optimal taxes generally lead to social welfare gain rather than deadweight loss.


Keywords: Indirect tax, Deadweight loss, Excess burden, Imperfect competition, Lerner index

JEL classification: D59, H21, L16


* Phone: 86-10-6275-8934, Email:,, I thank Been-Lon Chen, Lixing Li, Shin-Kun Peng, Ivan Png, C. C. Yang, and workshop participants at the Institute of Economics, Academia Sinica (Taiwan), for very helpful comments.  All errors are mine.

No. E2010016