Funding Public Goods through Dedicated Taxes on Private Goods

Nathan W. Chan and Matthew J. Kotchen


We examine dedicated taxes (i.e., taxes on private goods used to finance public good provision) in a game-theoretic model of impure public goods. We show that a dedicated tax can increase or decrease demand for the taxed good. The optimal dedicated tax generally cannot achieve the Pareto-optimal allocation, but it can generate a conditionally efficient equilibrium with comparatively more or less public good provision, depending in part on complementarity or substitutability between the private and public good. We also demonstrate a neutrality result: when individuals can make direct donations, sufficiently low dedicated taxes will not impact equilibrium allocation.


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