, Volume 159, Issue 1-2, pp 121-139
Date: 23 Oct 2012

On the political and fiscal determinants of income redistribution under federalism and democracy: evidence from Germany

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Abstract

Several recent studies suggest that transfers from central to regional governments are motivated by political considerations. In this paper we examine if this is also the case for transfers from regional to central governments in the context of the German fiscal equalization system. We examine the factors that contribute to differences in tax revenues across German states. The evidence indicates that both fiscal incentives and political factors can explain these differences, although in Germany the former are more important. Moreover, accounting for fiscal institutions has important consequences for the empirical assessment of political influences on taxation. Overall we find that the political affiliation of the state governor is an important factor in explaining differences in state tax revenues. Thus, the right-wing party (CDU/CSU) is effective in relaxing the tax burden at the state level. In contrast, partisan alignment between the state government and the federal government loses its importance once fiscal conditions enter the empirical model.