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Taxing Top CEO Incomes

Author

Listed:
  • Laurence Ales
  • Christopher Sleet

Abstract

We use a firm-CEO assignment framework to model the market for CEO effective labor. In the model's equilibrium, more talented CEOs match with and supply more effort to larger firms. Taxation of CEO incomes affects the equilibrium pricing of CEO effective labor and, hence, spills over and affects firm profits. Absent the ability to tax profits or a direct concern for firm owners, a standard prescription for high marginal income taxes emerges. However, given such an ability or concern, the optimal marginal tax rates are much lower.

Suggested Citation

  • Laurence Ales & Christopher Sleet, 2016. "Taxing Top CEO Incomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(11), pages 3331-3366, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:106:y:2016:i:11:p:3331-66
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20151093
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:oup:qjecon:v:132:y:2017:i:1:p:211-270. is not listed on IDEAS
    2. George-Levi Gayle & Robert A. Miller, 2009. "Has Moral Hazard Become a More Important Factor in Managerial Compensation?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1740-1769, December.
    3. Casey Rothschild & Florian Scheuer, 2013. "Redistributive Taxation in the Roy Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(2), pages 623-668.
    4. Stefanie Stantcheva, 2014. "Optimal Income Taxation with Adverse Selection in the Labour Market," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(3), pages 1296-1329.
    5. Jon Bakija & Adam Cole & Bradley Heim, 2008. "Jobs and Income Growth of Top Earners and the Causes of Changing Income Inequality: Evidence from U.S. Tax Return Data," Department of Economics Working Papers 2010-22, Department of Economics, Williams College, revised Jan 2012.
    6. Laurence Ales & Antonio Andres Bellofatto & Jessie Jiaxu Wang, 2017. "Taxing Atlas: Executive Compensation, Firm Size and Their Impact on Optimal Top Income Tax Rates," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 26, pages 62-90, October.
    7. Knud Jørgen Munk, 1980. "Optimal Taxation with some Non-Taxable Commodities," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(4), pages 755-765.
    8. Casey Rothschild & Florian Scheuer, 2016. "Optimal Taxation with Rent-Seeking," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 83(3), pages 1225-1262.
    9. Florian Scheuer & Iván Werning, 2017. "The Taxation of Superstars," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 132(1), pages 211-270.
    10. Munk, Knud Jorgen, 1978. " Optimal Taxation and Pure Profit," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 80(1), pages 1-19.
    11. Frydman, Carola & Molloy, Raven S., 2011. "Does tax policy affect executive compensation? Evidence from postwar tax reforms," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1425-1437.
    12. Austan Goolsbee, 2000. "What Happens When You Tax the Rich? Evidence from Executive Compensation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(2), pages 352-378, April.
    13. Marko Tervio, 2008. "The Difference That CEOs Make: An Assignment Model Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 642-668, June.
    14. Laurence Ales & Musab Kurnaz & Christopher Sleet, 2015. "Technical Change, Wage Inequality, and Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(10), pages 3061-3101, October.
    15. Emmanuel Saez, 2001. "Using Elasticities to Derive Optimal Income Tax Rates," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(1), pages 205-229.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Corneo, Giacomo, 2018. "Time-poor, working, super-rich," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 1-19.
    2. repec:eee:labeco:v:56:y:2019:i:c:p:1-25 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Florian Scheuer & Joel Slemrod, 2019. "Taxation and the Superrich," NBER Working Papers 26207, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • M12 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Personnel Management; Executives; Executive Compensation
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects

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