Quarterly Review 1922

Analyzing a Proposal to Ban State Tax Breaks to Businesses

Thomas J. Holmes | University of Minnesota, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

Spring 1995

This article asks whether or not the overall welfare of U.S. residents would be greater if U.S. federal law prohibited state governments from offering tax breaks to particular businesses. The answer of a formal model is yes, making such tax breaks illegal could increase a summary measure of total welfare in the economy. According to the model, the policy could increase welfare because it would increase the tax revenue collected from capital agents, and that revenue could finance an increase in spending on public goods. The policy would also spread the tax burden more evenly in the economy and so reduce the deadweight loss of taxation per dollar collected. In addition, the policy would lead to a more efficient pattern of industry locations in the economy.

Download Paper (pdf)