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The Two-Part Instrument in a Second-Best World
Journal of Public Economics (2005)
  • Don Fullerton, University of Texas at Austin
  • Ann Wolverton
Standard Pigovian tax theory has been extended in two directions. First, many polluting activities are difficult to tax because they are not market transactions, and so recent papers have shown that the same effects can be achieved by use of a two-part instrument (2PI): a tax on output or income and a subsidy for clean alternatives to pollution. It is a generalization of a deposit-refund system. Second, a different literature concerns the second-best pollution tax in the presence of other tax distortions. Here, we combine the two extensions by looking at the second-best 2PI. When government needs revenue, is the deposit larger and the rebate smaller? We find explicit solutions for each tax and subsidy in a general equilibrium model with other tax distortions, and we compare these to the rates in a first-best model. The tax-subsidy combination is explained in terms of a tax effect, an environmental effect, and a revenue effect. The model allows for flexible interpretation, to show various applications of the 2PI. We also discuss important caveats.
Publication Date
September, 2005
Citation Information
Don Fullerton and Ann Wolverton. "The Two-Part Instrument in a Second-Best World" Journal of Public Economics Vol. 89 (2005)
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