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Taxation and Credible Commitment: Left, Right, and Partisan Turnover

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Taxation is partly a game of credible commitment. Data for eighteen OECD countries show that partisan turnover systematically affects the long-run equilibrium mix of taxes and services. When partisan turnover is low, more right-wing influence permanently increases corporate tax revenue and the corporate share of pre-tax income; more left-wing influence, by contrast, permanently increases consumption tax revenue and social spending. When turnover is high, even powerful partisans do not increase taxes that disproportionately affect their supporters. When partisans tax their own supporters, they raise more revenue, even when we account for some plausible benefits. The theoretical conjectures are consistent with the pattern of partisan behavior within countries, not just between them.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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