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Optimal Nonlinear Income Taxation with Habit Formation

  • JANG‐TING GUO
  • ALAN KRAUSE

It has recently been shown that incorporating "keeping up with the Joneses" preferences into a prototypical two-ability-type optimal nonlinear taxation model leads to higher marginal income tax rates for both types of agents. Specifically, the high-skill type faces a positive marginal income tax rate, rather than zero as in the conventional case. In this paper, agents' utility functions are postulated to exhibit "habit formation in consumption" such that the prototypical two-ability-type optimal nonlinear taxation model becomes a dynamic analytical framework. We show that if the government can commit to its future fiscal policy, the presence of consumption habits does not affect the standard results on optimal marginal income tax rates. By contrast, if the government cannot pre-commit, the high-skill type will face a negative marginal income tax rate, whereas the effect of habit formation on the low-skill type's marginal tax rate is ambiguous.

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Article provided by Association for Public Economic Theory in its journal Journal of Public Economic Theory.

Volume (Year): 13 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (06)
Pages: 463-480

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Handle: RePEc:bla:jpbect:v:13:y:2011:i:3:p:463-480
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=1097-3923

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  1. Marcus Berliant & John O. Ledyard, 2014. "Optimal Dynamic Nonlinear Income Taxes with No Commitment," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 16(2), pages 196-221, 04.
  2. Bill Dupor & Wen-Fang Liu, 2003. "Jealousy and Equilibrium Overconsumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 423-428, March.
  3. Jaime Alonso-Carrera & Jordi Caballé & Xavier Raurich, 2004. "Consumption Externalities, Habit Formation and Equilibrium Efficiency," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(2), pages 231-251, 06.
  4. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521629560 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Jody Overland & Christopher D. Carroll & David N. Weil, 2000. "Saving and Growth with Habit Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 341-355, June.
  6. Craig Brett & John Weymark, 2008. "Optimal Nonlinear Taxation of Income and Savings without Commitment," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0805, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  7. Oswald, Andrew J., 1983. "Altruism, jealousy and the theory of optimal non-linear taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 77-87, February.
  8. G. Constantinides, 1990. "Habit formation: a resolution of the equity premium puzzle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1397, David K. Levine.
  9. Christopher D Carroll, 2000. "Solving Consumption Models with Multiplicative Habits," Economics Working Paper Archive 421, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  10. Jang-Ting Guo & Zuzana Janko, 2009. "Reexamination of Real Business Cycles in a Small Open Economy," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 165-182, July.
  11. Hotz, V Joseph & Kydland, Finn E & Sedlacek, Guilherme L, 1988. "Intertemporal Preferences and Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 335-60, March.
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