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Optimal Capital Income Taxation

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  • Andrew B. Abel

Abstract

In an economy with identical infinitely-lived households that obtain utility from leisure as well as consumption, Chamley (1986) and Judd (1985) have shown that the optimal tax system to pay for an exogenous stream of government purchases involves a zero tax rate on capital in the long run, with tax revenue collected by a distortionary tax on labor income. Extending the results of Hall and Jorgenson (1971) to general equilibrium, I show that if purchasers of capital are permitted to deduct capital expenditures from taxable capital income, then a constant tax rate on capital income is non-distortionary. Importantly, even though this specification of the capital income tax imposes a zero effective tax rate on capital, the capital income tax can collect substantial revenue. Provided that government purchases do not exceed gross capital income less gross investment, the optimal tax system will consist of a positive tax rate on capital income and a zero tax rate on labor income--just the opposite of the results of Chamley and Judd.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13354.

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Date of creation: Aug 2007
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13354

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  1. Judd, Kenneth L., 1985. "Redistributive taxation in a simple perfect foresight model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 59-83, October.
  2. Andrew Abel & Gregory N. Mankiw & Lawrence H. Summers & Richard Zeckhauser, . "Assessing Dynamic Efficiency: Theory and Evidence," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research 14-88, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  3. Paul A. Samuelson, 1964. "Tax Deductibility of Economic Depreciation to Insure Invariant Valuations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 72, pages 604.
  4. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-22, May.
  5. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1990. "Supply-Side Economics: An Analytical Review," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(2), pages 293-316, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Michael Sattinger, 2010. "Income Tax Incidence with Positive Population Growth," Discussion Papers 10-04, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
  2. Matteo Bassi, 2008. "I Will Survive: Capital Taxation, Voter Turnout and Time Inconsistency," CSEF Working Papers, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy 206, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  3. Conesa, Juan C. & Domínguez, Begoña, 2013. "Intangible investment and Ramsey capital taxation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 60(8), pages 983-995.
  4. Jacques Kibambe Ngoie & Niek Schoeman, 2012. "Efficiency of Optimal Taxation in a Dynamic Stochastic Environment: Case of South Africa," Working Papers 201218, University of Pretoria, Department of Economics.
  5. Backus, David & Henriksen, Espen & Storesletten, Kjetil, 2008. "Taxes and the global allocation of capital," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 48-61, January.
  6. Francesco Menoncin & Paolo M. Panteghini, 2013. "The Johansson-Samuelson Theorem in General Equilibrium: A Rebuttal," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 69(1), pages 57-71, March.
  7. Alberto Petrucci, 2007. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in Models with Endogenous Fertility," Development Working Papers 228, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
  8. Florin O. Bilbiie & Fabio Ghironi & Marc J. Melitz, 2008. "Monopoly Power and Endogenous Product Variety: Distortions and Remedies," NBER Working Papers 14383, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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