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PUBLICATIONSLatin American Journal of Economics -ex Cuadernos de Economía

Las Tres G: Gobernar es Gravar para Gastar
Osvaldo Schenone
Cuadernos de Economía, Vol. 40, No.119, pp. 111-148, 2003.
ISSN: Print 0716-0046 Electronic 0717-6821

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Governments must collect the resources necessary to carry out their duties, regardless of the intensity with which governments intervene in society. Ultimately, to govern must be to tax in order to spent. Everything else, such as the intentions of governments, the composition of their expenditure, the legitimacy of their intervention, and other thorny issues, can be debatable but taxing and spending are doubtless the defining functions of governments. Centuries of progress in the difficult art of governing society did not yield a definite solution to the problem of efficient taxation. Economists cannot be satisfied with the proposed solutions. The alternative proposals are poor and imperfect … and such imperfections grow exponencially as governments widen the scope of their actions. The VAT, despite its imperfections, can best fulfill the revenue yielding purpose of taxation. The income tax has a redistributive purpose that, ultimately, fails to achieve and, therefore, remains a tax instrument in search of a duty it can effectively perform. Externality corrections by selective taxes is another task that has not been satisfactorily fulfilled in practice. These conclusions might, perhaps, be considered crestfallen and gloomy. Nothing of the sort; they must be considered a fascinating challenge showing the importance of the work that economists have yet to accomplish to contribute to the superior task of governing society.

Clasification JEL: H20
Keyword: Public goods, revelation of preferences, optimal taxation
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