Salience and Taxation with Imperfect Competition
69 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2020 Last revised: 24 May 2023
Date Written: June 2020
This paper studies commodity taxation in a model featuring heterogeneous consumers, imperfect competition, and tax salience. We derive new formulas for the incidence and marginal excess burden of commodity taxation, and we find that tax salience and market structure interact when considering tax incidence but do not directly interact when considering the marginal excess burden. We estimate the necessary inputs to the formulas by combining Nielsen Retail Scanner data from grocery stores in the US with detailed sales tax data. We calibrate our new formulas and conclude that the incidence of sales taxes on consumers is increasing in tax salience, and the marginal excess burden of taxation is larger than standard formulas that ignore imperfect competition and tax salience.
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