The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper examines the case for internationally coordinated indirect taxes on aviation (as a source of general revenue-not (necessarily) as a source of development finance). The case for such taxes is strong: the tax burden on international aviation is currently limited, yet it contributes significantly to border-crossing environmental damage. A tax on aviation fuel would address the key border-crossing externalities most directly; a ticket tax could raise more revenue; departure taxes face the least legal obstacles. Optimal policy requires deploying both fuel and ticket taxes. A fuel tax of 20 U.S. cents per gallon (10 percent, at today's fuel prices, corresponding to assessed environmental damage), or alternatively ticket taxes of 2.5 percent, would raise about US$10 billion if imposed worldwide, and US$3 billion if applied only in Europe.