Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

N. 35 - "Who do you blame in local finance? An analysis of municipal financing in Italy" - Massimo Bordignon, Veronica Grembi and Santino Piazza


In a political agency model, we study the effect of introducing a less transparent tax tool for the financing of local governments. We show that lower quality politicians would use more the less transparent tax tool to enhance their probability of re-election. This prediction is tested by studying a reform that in 1999 allowed Italian municipalities
to partially substitute a more accountable source of tax revenue (the property tax) with a less transparent one (a surcharge on the personal income tax of residents). Using a Difference in Difference approach, we show that in line with theory, Mayors at their first term in power adopted a higher surcharge on the personal income tax and reduced
the property tax rate signi cantly more than Mayors in their nal term.

Keywords: Fiscal federalism, Tax transparency, Agency Model, Property tax
JEL Codes: H71, H77, D78