Last Updated: Friday, October 14, 2016

Impact and Incidence of Tax: A Conceptual Approach

Impact and Incidence of tax
                   First of all, we should know what the term ‘Tax’ stand for to understand easily the concept of the ‘Impact and Incidence of Tax’ and its effects on an individual.
Tax is a kind of money which it is the legal duty of very citizen of a country to pay honestly. It may be levied on income, property and even at the time of purchasing a commodity.
                   The burden of this tax does not always lie on the person who is imposed the tax in first instance, it may also burden to other person. So the person who initially pays the tax may not bear this burden, he can shift it to other person. Hence, we need to know who bears the immediate burden of tax and who bears the ultimate burden of a tax, as the result we have to make clear the concept of impact of a tax and incidence of a tax.

The concept of impact and incidence of a tax:.

Tax Impact or Impact of Taxation

                   Impact of taxation refers to the immediate burden of the tax. The impact of a tax is the immediate result of the imposition of a tax on the person who pays it in the first instance.
The impact of tax refers how introduction of taxation or the raising of tax levels, on a particular product or service, affects usages of product or service. The introduction or increase of tax, for example, usually results in the product or service being purchased less often. As a result, the impact of tax, or tax impact, is usually negative for the development of an economy, as it hinders and reduces spending, which is necessary for the growth of an economy.
Tax Incidence
Tax incidence is the degree to which a given tax is paid or borne by a particular economic unit such as consumers, producers, employers, employees etc. When we say that the tax incidence of a given tax falls on A, it means A ultimately pays or bears the burden of tax in greater proportion.
Key terms:
  •    Incidence of a tax is the settlement of the tax burden on the ultimate tax-payer.
  • The incidence of a tax refers to the money burden of a tax on the person who ultimately bears it.
  • The incidence of a tax remains upon that person who cannot shift its burden to any other person.
  • Tax incidence or tax burden does not depend on where the revenue is collected, but on the price elasticity of demand and price elasticity of supply. ( François Quesnay)

Tax incidence is of two types: statutory incidence and economic incidence.
Statutory incidence or nominal incidence of a given tax, is the degree to which the tax is actually paid by an economic unit in the form of cash, check etc. (Tax may be collected and deposited in government's treasury by someone else). Statutory incidence is stated in tax law.    For example, US tax laws require that tax on salary income of an employee must be borne 50% by employer and 50% by employee. In this case, statutory incidence of tax equally falls on employer and employee.
Economic incidence of a given tax is the degree to which the burden of the tax is borne by an economic unit in the form of reduced resources. Economic incidence of a tax does not necessarily fall on the same economic unit on which its statutory incidence falls. Rather it depends on the elasticity of demand and supply. When demand is inelastic and supply elastic, tax burden is mainly on the consumer; in case of inelastic supply and elastic demand, tax incidence falls mainly on producer. When both demand and supply are moderately elastic the tax incidence is distributed between producers and consumers.
Economic tax incidence is explained in the following example:
Suppose a tax of Re.1 per unit is imposed on sale of product X. If the demand of the product is perfectly inelastic and supply elastic, the suppliers will be able to shift all of the economic incidence of the tax to consumers by restricting supply causing increase in price of product X by Re.1. Producers will be able to earn same amount of revenue as before the imposition of tax. Only consumers will suffer in this case.
If the above Re.1 tax per unit is imposed under perfectly inelastic supply, producers will have the bear all the burden of the tax since they will not be able to control the price of the product when supply is perfectly inelastic.
When both demand and supply are moderately elastic, the product's price will increase slightly as a result of Re.1 tax per unit but the increase will be lower than Re.1. Consumers will bear some burden of the tax by paying slightly higher price. Producers will also face moderate tax incidence because the increase in price is less than the tax per unit.
Differences between the two:
In short, 
"The impact of taxation is on the producer while incidence of taxation on the consumers. The impact of tax can be shifted while incidence of tax cannot be shifted. The incidence of tax relates to the effects upon the people who pay the taxes, while the impact of tax relates to the effects upon the goods and services which are taxed."

There are different concepts of incidence of taxation given by different economists:
Dalton classifies incidence of taxation:
                   Prof. Dalton classifies incidence of tax into two categories, money burden and real burden.
  1.  Money burden: the money burden classified into two, direct money burden and indirect burden. According to Dalton, Direct money burden indicate that the burden of taxation in term of money lies on a person which the tax is levied. This means that one who pays the tax also bears the burden.

     If a tax is shifted, the incidence does not fall upon the person who shifts it. For example, suppose a government impose tax on sugar at the sugar manufacturing, so the money burden of the tax falls on the manufacturer of the sugar directly.
If a manufacturer enable to shift money burden of the tax to other person, say, the wholesale dealer by means of raising the price of sugar i.e. shift money burden, if the process of shifting continues from wholesaler to the final consumer, the incidence is said to be on the final consumer who ultimate bears the money burden, this Dalton calls the indirect money burden.
2. Real burden: the real burden also classified into direct and indirect real burden of a tax. The incidence of tax involves the shifting. According to Dalton, similarly, the real burden of a tax is the sacrifice which the impression of a tax entails on the tax-payers.
Direct real Burden is the sacrifice of economic welfare which has been made by the taxpayer as result of payment of tax. Indirect real burden is the reduction in the consumption of good by the taxpayer due to the imposition of tax.
K. Hicks’ classified incidence of taxation
                Mrs. Ursula K. Hicks, also classifies incidence into two parts:
1.       Formal incidence
2.       Effective incidence of taxation.
These two categories of incidence of taxation were adopted by the taxation Inquiry Commission and study the problem of incidence of taxation in India.
The Commission defined, “formal incidence s the money burden of taxes resting with the subject on whom the burden is intended by the taxing author to fall and “ effective incidence is the real or final distribution of tax burden after its shifting in consequences of changing demand and supply condition of taxed commodity or services.
In the sense of formal incidence of tax , prof. Dalton Calls as money burden of tax and effective incidence as indirect money burden of tax.
Mus grave concept of Incidence:
                Mus grave make three concepts incidence of taxation:
1.       Absolute or specific
2.       Differential
3.       Budget balance
After we discussed the concept of impact and incidence of tax, make us clear that it effect on the consumer for example, suppose the government impose a tax on the necessary goods which consumers consumer every-day-life. This tax, the sellers will shift it forward to the consumers by means of increasing the price of the commodities, as a result , the consumer has to spend more money to buy the same amount of that commodity, so they have spend more. On the other hand, consumer may reduce their consumption because of their income is limited, so their standard of living decreased. For example, at the present government of India increase tax on the petroleum, and this tax leads to increase the price of petroleum in market. It is effect on the consumers because they need to spend much more than before on their transportation, and everything in market because of high  cost o transportation, and production.
However, this effect is also depend on the nature of demand and supply of the goods . for example, if the demand is perfectly inelastic (ed=o) , the effect burden fully on the consumer. The reason is that the consumer cannot decrease their consumption, it may be because of their necessary need for everyday life etc , so whatever the price is , will purchase at same amount of the commodity.
If demand is relatively inelastic, the more burden of the tax on the buyer than the seller. Because, if the price of commodity increase or decrease the demand increase or decrease less than the price.
If demand is unit elastic, effect burden of the tax commodity are equally for the both consumer and producer. Here, if the price increases one unit and the demand of the consumer will decrease in one of commodity. The producer will increase the price half of the tax that government imposed on the producer. So 50% for consumer and 50% for the producers.
“If demand of commodity tax is elastic (Ed>1) the more burden of tax will be on producer and consequently the less burden on consumer.”
“If the demand is perfectly elastic (Ed=&), the full burden on the producer and so on.”
                To sum up, the impact and incidence of a tax is the deference burden of taxation to the tax-payer, one impose the tax to tax payer and he enable to shift it to other person, it is impact of a tax, when this tax, when the ultimate burden of the tax which consumer cannot shift, it is the incidence of tax. The effect of this tax on the consumer and producer depend on the nature and the elasticity of demand supply of the commodity.
     1. The Diffusion Theory
·        This theory states that eventually, it becomes impossible to trace the final incidence of any tax and that in reality, all taxes get diffused in the economic system.
·        It is based on the assumption that the market is sufficiently competitive and that the factors of production can move from one employment to the other quickly, easily and without significant costs.
·        Because of the constant interactions by sales/purchases transactions, a tax imposed at one place could shift to all sectors of the economy thus becoming untraceable.           
      2. Demand and supply Theory
·        A tax may be shifted through sale/purchase transactions depending on the elasticity of demand and supply.
·        Shifting is through a revision of prices.
·        If the demand is inelastic, tax can easily be shifted by the seller to the buyer.

·        Where demand is elastic, the burden of tax will mainly be borne by the seller.
3. Concentration Theory
The tax should look on those having capability of paying tax that we need to look on the units with surplus income

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