We explore the nature of tax complexity in competitive political systems. The analysis does not rely upon imperfections in the operation of the public sector. Complexity arises in the course of the struggle for office, during which political parties are induced to propose platforms that discriminate carefully among heterogeneous voters. A basic model is enriched by the addition of administration costs and self-selection, factors which limit the ability of any government to discriminate fully. The effect on complexity of inequalities in political influence is also investigated. The analysis suggests that simple tax systems (such as a flat tax or a broadly based tax without special provisions) are not compatible with vigorous political competition.

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Keywords Administration costs, Flat tax, Probabilistic voting, Self-selection, Tax complexity, Taxation
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1023/A:1008669403754
Journal International Tax and Public Finance
Warskett, G. (George), Winer, S, & Hettich, W. (Walter). (1998). The Complexity of Tax Structure in Competitive Political Systems. International Tax and Public Finance, 5(2), 123–151. doi:10.1023/A:1008669403754