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Preference Heterogeneity and Optimal Capital Income Taxation

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  • Mikhail Golosov
  • Maxim Troshkin
  • Aleh Tsyvinski
  • Matthew Weinzierl

Abstract

We examine a prominent justification for capital income taxation: goods preferred by those with high ability ought to be taxed. In an environment where commodity taxes are allowed to be nonlinear functions of income and consumption, we derive an analytical expression that reveals the forces determining optimal commodity taxation. We then calibrate the model to evidence on the relationship between skills and preferences and extensively examine the quantitative case for taxes on future consumption (saving). In our baseline case of a unit intertemporal elasticity, optimal capital income tax rates are 2% on average and 4.5% on high earners. We find that the intertemporal elasticity of substitution has a substantial effect on optimal capital taxation. If the intertemporal elasticity is one-third, optimal capital income tax rates rise to 15% on average and 23% on high earners; if the intertemporal elasticity is two, optimal rates fall to 0.6% on average and 1.6% on high earners. Nevertheless, in all cases that we consider the welfare gains of using optimal capital taxes are small.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16619.

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Date of creation: Dec 2010
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16619

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  1. Samwick, Andrew A., 1998. "Discount rate heterogeneity and social security reform," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 117-146, October.
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  10. Ritva Tarkiainen & Matti Tuomala, 2007. "On optimal income taxation with heterogeneous work preferences," International Journal of Economic Theory, The International Society for Economic Theory, vol. 3(1), pages 35-46.
  11. Saez, Emmanuel, 2001. "Using Elasticities to Derive Optimal Income Tax Rates," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(1), pages 205-29, January.
  12. Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Claus Thustrup Kreiner & Emmanuel Saez, 2006. "The Optimal Income Taxation of Couples," NBER Working Papers 12685, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  14. Raj Chetty, 2012. "Bounds on Elasticities With Optimization Frictions: A Synthesis of Micro and Macro Evidence on Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 80(3), pages 969-1018, 05.
  15. Mikhail Golosov & Narayana R. Kocherlakota & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2001. "Optimal indirect and capital taxation," Working Papers 615, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  16. Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2006. "Designing Optimal Disability Insurance: A Case for Asset Testing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(2), pages 257-279, April.
  17. Richard Blundell & Luigi Pistaferri & Ian Preston, 2008. "Consumption Inequality and Partial Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1887-1921, December.
  18. Mikhail Golosov & Maxim Troshkin & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2011. "Optimal Dynamic Taxes," NBER Working Papers 17642, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Antoine Bozio & Guy Laroque & Cormac O'Dea, 2013. "Heterogeneity in time preference in older households," IFS Working Papers W13/02, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  2. Benjamin B. Lockwood & Matthew C. Weinzierl, 2012. "De Gustibus non est Taxandum: Heterogeneity in Preferences and Optimal Redistribution," NBER Working Papers 17784, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jang-Ting Guo & Alan Krause, . "Dynamic Nonlinear Income Taxation with Quasi-Hyperbolic Discounting and No Commitment," Discussion Papers 11/16, Department of Economics, University of York.

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