Vat Base Broadening, Self Supply, and the Informal Sector

33 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2000 Last revised: 16 Apr 2008

See all articles by John Piggott

John Piggott

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Australian School of Business, School of Economics

John Whalley

University of Western Ontario - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Centre for International Governance and Innovation (CIGI)

Date Written: January 1998

Abstract

We develop a general equilibrium tax model to evaluate the impacts of equal yield base broadening in indirect taxes from high rate narrow based (typically manufactures) taxes to broad based taxes (including services) such as a VAT. We capture differences in choice of mode of supply between market goods, such as manufactures, which cannot be supplied other than through the market, and self-suppliable services and informal sector supplied products. Using this formulation, we are able to provide numerical examples of welfare worsening VAT base broadening, which expands the tax base from market based manufactures, in which there are few (or no) non taxed supply possibilities, to all goods and services where such possibilities exist. We show that the usual presumption that there are welfare benefits from equal yield VAT base broadening breaks down once tax induced increases in self supply of previously non taxed goods and services and in informal sector activity (in small scale construction and other areas) are taken into account. Moreover, since untaxed informal sector supply is typically from lower income to higher income households, they gain as comparable informal sector activity is taxed under the base broadening change. We provide a calibrated version of the model, which captures Canadian base broadening accompanying the introduction of the Canadian VAT (GST) in 1990. Results show the change to have been welfare worsening in aggregate but progressive; opposite to conventional belief. Aggregate welfare losses increase sharply if pre-existing income taxes enter the analysis, since VAT induced supply side losses compound with the income tax, while consumption side tax rate variance reducing gains do not

Suggested Citation

Piggott, John and Whalley, John, Vat Base Broadening, Self Supply, and the Informal Sector (January 1998). NBER Working Paper No. w6349. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=226100

John Piggott (Contact Author)

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Australian School of Business, School of Economics ( email )

High Street
Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia

John Whalley

University of Western Ontario - Department of Economics ( email )

London, Ontario N6A 5B8
Canada
519-661-3509, ext. 83509 (Phone)
519-661-3666 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ssc.uwo.ca/economics/faculty/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

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Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.CESifo.de

Centre for International Governance and Innovation (CIGI) ( email )

57 Erb Street West
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 6C2
Canada

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