Bracket Creeps: Bane or Boon for the Stability of Numerical Budget Rules?
As taxpayers typically pay low attention to a small inflation-induced bracket creep of the income tax, policy-makers tend to postpone its correction into the future. However, the fiscal illusion fades away and political pressure for a tax relief arises since after some years the cumulative increase of the average tax rate exceeds a critical threshold. Using Germany as an example, this paper shows that bracket creeps can provoke revenue cycles in public budgets hindering governments’ compliance with the numerical budget rules. An indexation of the tax tariff could prevent such fluctuations and thus provides a favourable framework for the debt rule.
Fiscal Equalization, Tax Salience, and Tax Competition
Jurisdictions that engage in inter-regional tax competition usually try to attenuate competitive pressures by substituting salient tax instruments with hidden ones. On this effect, we investigate the efficiency consequences of inter-regional tax competition and fiscal equalization in a federal system when taxpayers fail to optimally react on shrouded attributes of local tax policy. If the statuary tax rate is a relatively salient instrument and taxpayers pay low attention to the quality and the frequency of tax enforcement, the underlying substitution of tax instruments with the aim of reducing the perceived tax price may suppress the under-exploitation of tax bases that is typically triggered by fiscal equalization.