Year of Publication

2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Business and Economics

Department

Economics

First Advisor

Dr. William H. Hoyt

Abstract

This dissertation investigates whether consumers’ cross-border shopping due to interstate commodity tax differentials influence counties’ economic activity and states’ strategic competition in multiple tax policies.

First, I examine how own and the nearest neighboring states’ commodity tax rates affect counties’ retail activity. Particularly, in contrast to many previous studies, I examine whether the distance to the state border influences the responsiveness of counties’ retail activity to sales and excise taxes of own and the nearest neighboring states. Since the costs of avoiding state commodity taxes are presumably lower along borders, the impacts of state commodity taxes on retail activity may be different for counties closer and further away from the state border. Considering retail establishments and employment of industries that are most likely to be affected by consumers’ cross-border shopping activity, I find that that the impacts of domestic and the nearest neighboring states’ sales and excise tax rates on counties’ retail establishments and employment depend on the distance to the state border. However, contrary to what would be expected, the impacts tend not to be very robust.

Second, I investigate whether consumers’ cross-border shopping to low commodity taxed states influence state governments to engage in strategic competition in multiple tax policies. Previous works on fiscal competition document that state governments engage in commodity tax competition to gain cross-border shoppers. Specifically, the empirical research find that changes in neighboring states’ one commodity tax rate influence changes in a home state’s same commodity tax rates. However, these studies do not address whether changes in neighboring states’ one commodity tax rate also induce the home state to adjust other taxes, either other commodity taxes or possible income taxes. Using a panel of the United States’ state-level data for the period 1977−2002, I estimate the reaction functions not for a single tax rate but multiple rates. In this framework, I find that states react to neighbors’ lower tax rates on one tax base by changing rates on either the same tax base or/and other tax bases, thereby suggesting that states engage in strategic competition in multiple tax rates to meet their revenue goals.

Included in

Economics Commons

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