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Capital Income Taxes with Heterogeneous Discount Rates

  • Peter Diamond
  • Johannes Spinnewijn

With heterogeneity in both skills and discount factors, the Atkinson- Stiglitz theorem that savings should not be taxed does not hold. In a model with heterogeneity of preferences at each earnings level, introducing a savings tax on high earners or a savings subsidy on low earners increases welfare, regardless of the correlation between ability and discount factor. Extending Emmanuel Saez (2002), a uniform savings tax increases welfare if that correlation is sufficiently high. Key for the results is that types who value future consumption less are more tempted by a lower paid job. Some optimal tax results and empirical evidence are presented. (JEL D14, H21, H24)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

Volume (Year): 3 (2011)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 52-76

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:3:y:2011:i:4:p:52-76
Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.3.4.52
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  1. Karen E. Dynan & Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, 2000. "Do the Rich Save More?," NBER Working Papers 7906, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Roger Gordon, 2004. "Taxation of Interest Income," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 5-15, January.
  3. Sören Blomquist & Vidar Christiansen, 2004. "Taxation and Heterogeneous Preferences," CESifo Working Paper Series 1244, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Roger H. Gordon & Wojciech Kopczuk, 2014. "The Choice of the Personal Income Tax Base," NBER Working Papers 20227, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. BOADWAY, R. & MARCHAND, M. & PESTIEAU, P. & del MAR RACIONERO, M., 2001. "Optimal redistribution with heterogeneous preferences for leisure," CORE Discussion Papers 2001025, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  6. Katherine Cuff, 2000. "Optimality of workfare with heterogeneous preferences," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 33(1), pages 149-174, February.
  7. Louis Kaplow, 2008. "Optimal Policy with Heterogeneous Preferences," NBER Working Papers 14170, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 2005. "Zero Expected Wealth Taxes: A Mirrlees Approach to Dynamic Optimal Taxation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(5), pages 1587-1621, 09.
  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. Christopher F. Chabris & David Laibson & Carrie L. Morris & Jonathon P. Schuldt & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2008. "Individual Laboratory-Measured Discount Rates Predict Field Behavior," NBER Working Papers 14270, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Peter A. Diamond, 2003. "Taxation, Incomplete Markets, and Social Security," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262042134, June.
  13. Diamond, Peter, 2006. "Optimal tax treatment of private contributions for public goods with and without warm glow preferences," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(4-5), pages 897-919, May.
  14. Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "The desirability of commodity taxation under non-linear income taxation and heterogeneous tastes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 217-230, February.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
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