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Fiscal externalities and the design of intergovernmental grants

Abstract

This paper describes the tax and expenditure externalities that can occur in a federation, focusing on the (relatively neglected) vertical tax and expenditure externalities which arise when state governments' tax and expenditure decisions affect the federal government's budget constraint and vice versa. Formulas are derived for matching grants which correct the distortions in governments' decision-making caused by fiscal externalities. With vertical tax externalities, the matching revenue grant may result in transfers from the state government to the federal government. With vertical expenditure externalities, the federal government should provide a matching expenditure grant equal to the additional federal revenue that is generated from an additional dollar spent by a state on productivityenhancing activities such as education.

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Dahlby, B. Fiscal externalities and the design of intergovernmental grants. Int Tax Public Finan 3, 397–412 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00418952

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00418952

Keywords

  • fiscal federalism
  • fiscal externalities
  • intergovernmental grants
  • tax exporting
  • tax competition