Robert Scherf

Harvard Business School
Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: Bonn Graduate School of Economics

NBER Working Papers and Publications

September 2019Understanding Different Approaches to Benefit-Based Taxation
with Matthew Weinzierl: w26276
The normative principle of benefit-based taxation has exerted substantial influence on many areas of public finance, but it has been largely set aside in the modern theoretical approach to optimal income taxation, where welfarist objectives dominate. A prerequisite for that gap to close is the clarification of what benefit-based income taxation would mean, specifically in a first-best setting. This paper seeks to provide clear, accessible descriptions and novel graphical representations of four major approaches to first-best benefit-based taxation, explain how these approaches relate to each other, and apply them within the Classical Benefit-Based framework for optimal income taxation of Smith (1776).

Published: Robert Scherf & Matthew Weinzierl, 2020. "Understanding Different Approaches to Benefitā€Based Taxation," Fiscal Studies, vol 41(2), pages 385-410. citation courtesy of

National Bureau of Economic Research
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Cambridge, MA 02138

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