March 19, 2018 

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TOTAL VARIABLE COST AND TOTAL PRODUCT: Because variable cost is largely associated with the cost of employing a variable input in the short run, it's possible to derive the total variable cost curve from the total product curve. This admittedly simplistic connection between total product and total variable cost is designed to illustrate the fundamental role that the law of diminishing marginal returns plays in the slope and shape of the total variable cost curve. Because he slope of the total variable cost curve, which is also the slope of the total cost curve, is marginal cost, this analysis also indicates how the law of diminishing marginal returns relates to marginal cost.

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A tax specified as a percentage of the price or value of a good, service, asset, or other activity. Ad valorem taxes tend to be broad based, imposed on activities such as income and retail sales. In fact, the two most important ad valorem taxes are income taxes and sales taxes. People pay a percentage of their incomes in income taxes or a percentage or the value of their purchases in sales taxes, regardless of the amount of time spent working or the quantities of goods purchases. An alternative is a per unit tax, with is a tax specified as a percentage of the physical quantity of a good.
An ad valorem tax is a tax in which the tax base is specified as a dollar value rather than a physical quantity. If, for example, the a city government places an ad valorem tax of 10 percent on retail sales (a sales tax), then buyers and/or sellers are responsible for paying an extra 10 cents on each dollar of commondities sold. Not only will the the total tax depend on the quantity sold, but more also importantly it depends on the price.

If you buy $100 worth of food at your local discount grocery store, then the city government collects a total tax of $10 (10 percent x $100). If your close friends buys exactly the same items from a high end food boutique, paying $150, then the then the city government collects a total tax of $15 (10 per cent x $150). It makes a difference that you paid lower prices than your friend for the same items.

This type of tax can be illustrated using the following tax calculation equation. The total tax collected is the product of the tax rate and the tax base. An ad valorem tax exists if the tax base is specified as a dollar. In the previous example, the tax rate is the ad valorem tax of 10 percent of sales and the tax base is the value of commodities sold.

tax=tax basextax rate
Ad valorem taxes tend to be broadbased, such as sales or income, in which quantity bought, sold, or exchanged is difficult to track or aggregate. Collecting taxes on the various quantities of different retail goods exchanged would be exceedingly difficult -- 5 cents on each bottle of soda pop, 2 cents on each candy bar, 15 cents on each gallon of milk, $1 on each T-bone steak, etc. An ad valorem sales tax is easier to administer. Calculate the total sales value, then collect a percentage of this value.

Ad valorem taxes are commonly the preferred method of collecting the revenue used by governments to provide public goods and generally finance government operations (the revenue effect). When broadbased, they tend to have less of an allocation effect.

An alternative type of tax is a per unit tax, in which the tax base is specified as a physical quantity. A per unit tax, in contrast to an ad valorem tax, does not depend on price. A higher price does not means a higher tax.


Recommended Citation:

AD VALOREM TAX, AmosWEB Encyclonomic WEB*pedia,, AmosWEB LLC, 2000-2018. [Accessed: March 19, 2018].

Check Out These Related Terms...

     | taxation principles | per unit tax | tax effects | revenue effect | allocation effect | tax equity | ability-to-pay principle | benefit principle | horizontal equity | vertical equity | tax proportionality | proportional tax | progressive tax | regressive tax | tax efficiency | tax incidence | tax wedge | deadweight loss |

Or For A Little Background...

     | taxes | government functions | efficiency | equity | distribution standards | public finance | allocation |

And For Further Study...

     | public choice | good types | market failures | public goods: demand | public goods: efficiency | tax multiplier | personal tax and nontax payments | transfer payments |

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