Tax Assignment Revisited
Richard M. Bird
University of Toronto - Joseph L. Rotman School of Management; Georgia State University - Andrew Young School of Public Policy
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.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 32
Keywords: tax assignment, fiscal federalism, Musgrave, Brazil, India, China, Russia, Nigeria
JEL Classification: B29, H77
Date posted: September 29, 2008