The Institutional Framework for Shared Consumption: Deemphasizing Taxation in the Theory of Public Finance
RICHARD E. WAGNER
PFM, Vol. 12 No. 1, (2012)
Expositions of the theory of public finance mostly presume that taxation is the primary instrument for generating revenues. This presumption, however, is neither historically accurate nor theoretically necessary. Taxation is a feature of a particular arrangement of ownership which is capable of variation. This paper explores some of that variation in a manner that puts taxation into the background of a theory of public finance while bringing the social organization of shared consumption into the foreground. For instance, cities are corporate bodies which can be organized under diverse institutional arrangements, only a subset of which will give scope to taxation rather than pricing through contract. In this respect, there is a deep similarity between cities and such entities as hotels and malls regarding the types of services they supply, along with a difference in structures of ownership and forms of revenue.
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