Land taxes in a Latin American context

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Since Henry George (1839-1897) economists have been arguing that a tax on unimproved land is an ideal tax on efficiency grounds. Output taxes, on the other hand, have distortionary effects on the economy. This paper shows that under asymmetric information output taxes might be used along with land tax in order to implement an optimal taxation scheme in a Latin American context, i.e., where land rental markets are relatively thin, land property provides non-agricultural payoffs and there is nonrevenue objectives of land taxation. Also, the model has two implications that can be tested empirically: (i) there is evasion when schemes based only on land taxes are implemented; (ii) this evasion is more severe for large landholders.

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