Sales Taxation, Spatial Agglomeration, and the Internet
67 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2017 Last revised: 16 Aug 2017
Date Written: August 1, 2017
By extending the standard model of commodity tax competition (Kanbur and Keen 1993) to include urban spatial structure (agglomeration) and online commerce, one can better analyze strategic tax-policy interactions among neighboring localities. Consumers buy different types of commodities, sold either by traditional or by online vendors. When the cost of online shopping falls, we show that equilibrium tax rates and revenues increase in small jurisdictions and decrease in large jurisdictions with retail shopping centers. Policy commentators warn that e-commerce erodes tax revenue - true enough for some localities - but, more accurately, changing transaction costs can generate entirely new commercial and fiscal equilibria that ultimately “redistribute” tax revenues from localities with concentrations of traditional vendors toward other, typically smaller, localities.
Keywords: Sales Tax, Tax Evasion, Agglomeration, e-Commerce, Tax Competition
JEL Classification: H25, H71, H73, L81, R50
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation