Fiscal Policy Through Time-Varying Tax Rates: If and How


Martin D Kaufman

Publication Date:

October 1, 2000

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Disclaimer: This Working Paper should not be reported as representing the views of the IMF.The views expressed in this Working Paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the IMF or IMF policy. Working Papers describe research in progress by the author(s) and are published to elicit comments and to further debate


This paper investigates if there are circumstances where time-varying tax rates could improve welfare and whether such policy can effectively be implemented in practice. While, in principle, variable taxes could improve welfare in some cases, the paper highlights the very particular circumstances that need to prevail. With liquidity constraints, a consumption-tax break is in a better footing to boost consumption and welfare than an income-tax break. A hike in consumption taxes can also be used to restrain consumption and improve welfare under time-consistency problems induced by hyperbolic discounting. However, variable taxes are subject to serious implementation problems fettering their use.


Working Paper No. 2000/170



Publication Date:

October 1, 2000



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