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A Characterization of Optimal Feasible Tax Mechanism

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  • Byungchae Rhee
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    Abstract

    This paper is motivated by a practical income (or wealth) taxation problem: For a public good economy where the provision of public goods is to be financed by income taxes collected from individuals, what is the optimal feasible tax mechanism when a social planner is relatively uninformed of the incomes or endowments of the individuals? This kind of problem, the optimal private provision of public goods, is a typical Bayesian mechanism design question for a small economy such as a club. In this case, the social planner has to take into account not only the individuals' incentive to report their income truthfully, but also the (individual) feasibility of the designed tax mechanism in the sense that each individual's tax payment should be consistent with their ability to pay. We employ the feasible implementation model used in Hurwicz, Maskin, and Postlewaite [1995] to study such an optimal taxation problem. It has been assumed in the standard model of optimal labor income taxation literature, pioneered by Mirrlees [1971], that there is a continuum of individuals and the (labor) income is observable to avoid the feasibility problem. Also, the literature on private provision of public goods has paid little attention to the continuous provision of public goods and the constrained efficiency under incomplete information. This paper considers a finite economy where public goods are provided continuously. Using a simple Bayesian model, we provide the full characterization of the two-agent, two-type optimal feasible tax mechanism and its properties. We find that (i) when the total endowment of the economy is relatively low enough or high enough, the first best feasible taxation can be obtained; (ii) the second best feasible tax mechanism requires a poor agent to pay relatively more than a rich agent, that is, it is regressive; and (iii) the tax mechanism is increasing in the sense that the agent's tax payment increases with his endowment. We also provide a comparative statics analysis. For the case of more than two agents, under certain mild assumptions we give some partial results similar to (i) and (ii) above. In addition, we find the optimal feasible tax mechanism for the corresponding infinitely large economy

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    Paper provided by Econometric Society in its series Econometric Society 2004 Far Eastern Meetings with number 551.

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    Date of creation: 11 Aug 2004
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    Handle: RePEc:ecm:feam04:551

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    Keywords: optimal taxation; feasibility; informational rent; second best;

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    1. Gradstein, Mark, 1994. "Efficient Provision of a Discrete Public Good," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 35(4), pages 877-97, November.
    2. Maskin, Eric, 1999. "Nash Equilibrium and Welfare Optimality," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 23-38, January.
    3. Palfrey, Thomas R., 2002. "Implementation theory," Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, in: R.J. Aumann & S. Hart (ed.), Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 61, pages 2271-2326 Elsevier.
    4. Volij, Oscar & Dagan, Nir & Serrano, Roberto, 1999. "Feasible Implementation of Taxation Methods," Staff General Research Papers 5246, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    5. Matthew O. Jackson, 2001. "A crash course in implementation theory," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 18(4), pages 655-708.
    6. d'ASPREMONT, Claude & GERARD-VARET, Louis-André, . "Incentives and incomplete information," CORE Discussion Papers RP -354, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    7. Maskin, Eric & Sjostrom, Tomas, 2001. "Implementation Theory," Working Papers 5-01-1, Pennsylvania State University, Department of Economics.
    8. Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 175-208, April.
    9. Lu Hong, 1996. "Bayesian implementation in exchange economies with state dependent feasible sets and private information," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 433-444.
    10. Bergstrom, Theodore & Blume, Lawrence & Varian, Hal, 1986. "On the private provision of public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 25-49, February.
    11. Roger B. Myerson, 1977. "Incentive Compatability and the Bargaining Problem," Discussion Papers 284, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    12. Guoqiang Tian, 1999. "Bayesian implementation in exchange economies with state dependent preferences and feasible sets," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 99-119.
    13. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1987. "Pareto efficient and optimal taxation and the new new welfare economics," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 15, pages 991-1042 Elsevier.
    14. Groves, Theodore, 1973. "Incentives in Teams," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 41(4), pages 617-31, July.
    15. John O. Ledyard & Thomas R. Palfrey, 1999. "A Characterization of Interim Efficiency with Public Goods," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(2), pages 435-448, March.
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