Tax Assignment Revisited

32 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2008

See all articles by Richard M. Bird

Richard M. Bird

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: September 2008


This paper first restates the lessons to be learned from Richard Musgrave's pioneering discussion of the tax assignment issue. Next, it considers subsequent developments in the theory of fiscal federalism related to the issue of tax assignment. Surprisingly little clear guidance is offered by the theoretical discussion when it comes to the practical policy issues facing any country with respect to tax assignment: what countries do seems to bear little relation to what theory suggests they should do. This point is illustrated by a brief review of tax assignments observed around the world in large emerging countries. The tax assignment issue in such countries as India and China is both important and unduly neglected: for the most part, these are still countries in search (whether they know it or not) for a sustainable solution to this problem. The paper concludes with some reflections about what seem to be future possible - or, perhaps better, needed - developments with respect to both the theory and practice of tax assignment, again with special reference to large emerging countries.

Keywords: tax assignment, fiscal federalism, Musgrave, Brazil, India, China, Russia, Nigeria

JEL Classification: B29, H77

Suggested Citation

Bird, Richard Miller, Tax Assignment Revisited (September 2008). Available at SSRN: or

Richard Miller Bird (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

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