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The Humean Critique of Lump Sum Taxation
Public Choice , 118(1-2), 2004, pp. 61-76
Abstract: This paper revives Hume's idea that it is unlikely forsovereign governments to implement pure lump-sum taxationbecause lump-sum taxes are arbitrary. We phrase the problem asone of time-inconsistency of tax collection for a tax revenuemaximizing Leviathan government. We demonstrate that whilelump-sum taxation is more efficient than distortionary incometax in terms of the ex anteamount of tax revenueraised, honoring a lump-sum tax is less likely to be crediblethan honoring a distortionary income tax. We also extend theframework to understanding the relationship betweenexpropriation risk and the lack of foreign direct investment.
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