Discussion Paper

Combining Rebates with Carbon Taxes: Optimal Strategies for Coping with Emissions Leakage and Tax Interactions

May 19, 2009 | Carolyn Fischer, Alan Fox


Emissions regulations like carbon pricing raise the price of covered sector goods and thus can interact with and exacerbate other preexisting distortions in the economy. One such distortion is labor taxes. Another is emissions "leakage" due to the lack of comparable emissions pricing abroad or among other emitting sectors at home. A potential response is to combine the emissions tax with a rebate to production to mitigate the price increases. We use an optimal tax framework to solve for the optimal emissions tax and output rebate, given these distortions. We then employ a multisector computable general equilibrium model based on the GTAP framework to simulate the effects of a $50 per-ton carbon tax on the major emissions-intensive sectors in the U.S. economy and estimate optimal rebates by sector.