Efficiency and Equity of an Outdoor Recreation Equipment Tax to Fund Public Lands

Margaret Walls and Matthew Ashenfarb


We analyze the efficiency and equity implications of a federal excise tax on outdoor recreation equipment for funding U.S. public lands. Using micro-data on consumer expenditures, we estimate a two-stage Quadratic Almost Ideal Demand System for recreation equipment and simulate the impacts of a 5 percent tax. The tax generates a modest welfare loss as a share of tax revenues raised—$0.04 for every $1 of revenue. It is approximately proportional to income, across the entire income distribution, but households in the lowest income quintile pay more as a share of income than households in the other four income quintiles.