Taxation of Interest Income
AbstractWhy is interest income taxed so much more heavily than other forms of capital income? This differential tax treatment has generated substantial tax arbitrage, resulting in lower tax revenue, efficiency costs, and apparently net gains to rich borrowers and net losses to poor lenders, together suggesting that this tax treatment makes no sense on welfare grounds. In examining this argument more formally, this paper reveals two omitted considerations that can help explain the existing tax treatment. First, the forecasted increase in the market interest rate results in a redistribution from rich borrowers to poor lenders. Yet this redistribution comes at no marginal efficiency cost, starting from a situation with no distortions to portfolio choice, so at the margin dominates further redistribution through the income tax. In addition, information about an individual's portfolio choice reveals information about her earnings ability, even controlling for observed labor income, if those who are more able tend to be less risk averse. By making use of this extra information about earnings ability, the tax system can be better tailored to redistribute from able to less able, for any given efficiency cost. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004
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Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Springer in its journal International Tax and Public Finance.
Volume (Year): 11 (2004)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=102915
taxation of interest income; taxation and portfolio choice; optimal taxation;
Other versions of this item:
- H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
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