Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Optimal Taxation in Theory and Practice

Contents:

Author Info

  • N. Gregory Mankiw

    ()
    (Harvard University, Economic Department)

  • Matthew C. Weinzierl

    ()
    (Harvard Business School, Business, Government and the International Economy Unit)

  • Danny Yagan

    ()
    (Harvard University, Grad School of Arts and Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Sciences)

Abstract

We highlight and explain eight lessons from optimal tax theory and compare them to the last few decades of OECD tax policy. As recommended by theory, top marginal income tax rates have declined, marginal income tax schedules have flattened, redistribution has risen with income inequality, and commodity taxes are more uniform and are typically assessed on final goods. However, trends in capital taxation are mixed, and capital income tax rates remain well above the zero level recommended by theory. Moreover, some of theory's more subtle prescriptions, such as taxes that involve personal characteristics, asset-testing, and history-dependence, remain rare in practice. Where large gaps between theory and policy remain, the difficult question is whether policymakers need to learn more from theorists, or the other way around.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/09-140.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Harvard Business School in its series Harvard Business School Working Papers with number 09-140.

as in new window
Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:09-140

Contact details of provider:
Postal: Soldiers Field, Boston, Massachusetts 02163
Phone: 617.495.6000
Web page: http://www.hbs.edu/
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords:

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Louis Kaplow, 2008. "Taxing Leisure Complements," NBER Working Papers 14397, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Gruber, Jon & Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "The elasticity of taxable income: evidence and implications," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 1-32, April.
  3. Grochulski, Borys & Piskorski, Tomasz, 2010. "Risky human capital and deferred capital income taxation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(3), pages 908-943, May.
  4. Juan C. Conesa & Dirk Krueger, 2004. "Taxing Capital: Not a Bad Idea After All," 2004 Meeting Papers 403, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. Emmanuel Saez, 2000. "Using Elasticities to Derive Optimal Income Tax Rates," NBER Working Papers 7628, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Albanesi, Stefania, 2006. "Optimal Taxation of Entrepreneurial Capital with Private Information," CEPR Discussion Papers 5647, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1993. "Uninsured idiosyncratic risk and aggregate saving," Working Papers 502, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  8. Narayana Kocherlakota, 2004. "Zero Expected Wealth Taxes: A Mirrlees Approach to Dynamic Optimal Taxation," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000729, UCLA Department of Economics.
  9. Michel Strawczynski & Momi Dahan, 2000. "Optimal Income Taxation: An Example with a U-Shaped Pattern of Optimal Marginal Tax Rates: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 681-686, June.
  10. Kenneth L. Judd, 1982. "Redistributive Taxation in a Simple Perfect Foresight Model," Discussion Papers 572, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  11. Alesina, Alberto F & Ichino, Andrea & Karabarbounis, Loukas, 2007. "Gender Based Taxation and the Division of Family Chores," CEPR Discussion Papers 6591, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Sören Blomquist & Luca Micheletto, 2008. "Age-related Optimal Income Taxation," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 110(1), pages 45-71, 03.
  13. Martin Feldstein, 1993. "The Effect of Marginal Tax Rates on Taxable Income: A Panel Study of the1986 Tax Reform Act," NBER Working Papers 4496, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. N. Gregory Mankiw, 1999. "The Savers-Spenders Theory of Fiscal Policy," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1888, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  15. Mikhail Golosov & Narayana Kocherlakota & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2003. "Optimal Indirect and Capital Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(3), pages 569-587.
  16. Naito, Hisahiro, 1999. "Re-examination of uniform commodity taxes under a non-linear income tax system and its implication for production efficiency," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 165-188, February.
  17. Stefania Albanesi & Christopher Sleet, 2006. "Dynamic Optimal Taxation with Private Information," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(1), pages 1-30.
  18. Diamond, Peter A & Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "Optimal Taxation and Public Production: I--Production Efficiency," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(1), pages 8-27, March.
  19. Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2005. "Designing Optimal Disability Insurance: A Case for Asset Testing," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000450, UCLA Department of Economics.
  20. Barro, Robert J., 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Scholarly Articles 3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  21. Kaplow Louis, 2008. "Optimal Policy with Heterogeneous Preferences," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-30, September.
  22. Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski & Ivan Werning, 2007. "New Dynamic Public Finance: A User's Guide," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2006, Volume 21, pages 317-388 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Salanié, Bernard, 2011. "The Economics of Taxation," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262016346, December.
  24. James R. Hines Jr., 2007. "Taxing Consumption and Other Sins," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(1), pages 49-68, Winter.
  25. Marek Kapicka, 2006. "The Dynamics of Optimal Taxation when Human Capital is Endogenous," 2006 Meeting Papers 349, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  26. Diamond, Peter A, 1998. "Optimal Income Taxation: An Example with a U-Shaped Pattern of Optimal Marginal Tax Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 83-95, March.
  27. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1976. "The design of tax structure: Direct versus indirect taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 55-75.
  28. repec:oup:restud:v:78:y::i:4:p:1490-1518 is not listed on IDEAS
  29. N. Gregory Mankiw & Matthew C. Weinzierl, 2009. "The Optimal Taxation of Height: A Case Study of Utilitarian Income Redistribution," Harvard Business School Working Papers 09-139, Harvard Business School.
  30. Feldstein, Martin, 1995. "Effect of Marginal Tax Rates on Taxable Income: A Panel Study of the 1986 Tax Reform Act," Scholarly Articles 2766676, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  31. Tuomala, Matti, 1990. "Optimal Income Tax and Redistribution," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198286059, September.
  32. Marek Kapicka, 2006. "Optimal Income Taxation with Human Capital Accumulation and Limited Record Keeping," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(4), pages 612-639, October.
  33. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-22, May.
  34. Loukas Karabarbounis & Andrea Ichino & Alberto Alesina, 2008. "Gender based Taxation," 2008 Meeting Papers 500, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  35. Deaton, Angus, 1979. "Optimally uniform commodity taxes," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 357-361.
  36. Louis Kaplow, 2008. "Optimal Policy with Heterogeneous Preferences," NBER Working Papers 14170, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:09-140. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Soebagio Notosoehardjo).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.