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On the optimality of age-dependent taxes and the progressive U.S. tax system

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  • Gervais, Martin

Abstract

In life-cycle economies, where an individual's optimal consumption-work plan is almost never constant, the optimal marginal tax rates on capital and labor income vary with age. Conversely, the progressivity imbedded in the U.S. tax code implies that marginal tax rates vary with age because tax rates vary with earnings and earnings vary with age. Using numerical simulations, this paper shows that if the tax authority is prevented from conditioning tax rates on age, some degree of progressivity is desirable as progressive taxation better imitates optimal age-dependent taxes than an optimal age-independent tax system. This role for progressive taxation emanates from efficiency reasons and does not rely on any insurance nor re-distribution arguments.

Suggested Citation

  • Gervais, Martin, 2012. "On the optimality of age-dependent taxes and the progressive U.S. tax system," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 682-691.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:dyncon:v:36:y:2012:i:4:p:682-691
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jedc.2011.11.011
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    Cited by:

    1. Peterman, William B., 2013. "Determining the motives for a positive optimal tax on capital," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 265-295.
    2. Carlos Garriga, 2019. "Optimal Fiscal Policy in Overlapping Generations Models," Public Finance Review, , vol. 47(1), pages 3-31, January.
    3. Joanna Tyrowicz & Krzysztof Makarski & Marcin Bielecki, 2018. "Inequality in an OLG economy with heterogeneous cohorts and pension systems," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 16(4), pages 583-606, December.
    4. Cagri S. Kumru & John Piggott, 2017. "Optimal Capital Income Taxation with Means-tested Benefits," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 64(3), pages 227-262, July.
    5. Aspen Gorry & Ezra Oberfield, 2012. "Optimal Taxation Over the Life Cycle," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 15(4), pages 551-572, October.
    6. William Peterman, 2016. "The effect of endogenous human capital accumulation on optimal taxation," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 21, pages 46-71, July.
    7. Woodland, A., 2016. "Taxation, Pensions, and Demographic Change," Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, in: Piggott, John & Woodland, Alan (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 0, pages 713-780, Elsevier.
    8. Krueger, Dirk & Ludwig, Alexander, 2013. "On the Optimal Provision of Social Insurance," MEA discussion paper series 201302, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
    9. Krueger, Dirk & Ludwig, Alexander, 2016. "On the optimal provision of social insurance: Progressive taxation versus education subsidies in general equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 72-98.
    10. Blandin, Adam & Peterman, William B., 2019. "Taxing capital? The importance of how human capital is accumulated," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 482-508.
    11. Alexander Ludwig & Dirk Krueger, 2010. "Optimal Progressive Taxation and Education Subsidies in a Model of Endogenous Human Capital Formation," 2010 Meeting Papers 388, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    12. Marco Cozzi, 2018. "Optimal Capital Taxation with Incomplete Markets and Schumpeterian Growth," Department Discussion Papers 1803, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.
    13. Julian Diaz Saavedra, 2013. "Age-dependent Taxation, Retirement Behavior, and Work Hours Over the Life Cycle," ThE Papers 13/09, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
    14. Joanna Tyrowicz & Krzysztof Makarski & Marcin Bielecki, 2018. "Inequality in an OLG economy with heterogeneous cohorts and pension systems," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 16(4), pages 583-606, December.
    15. Ruggero Paladini, 2014. "Da Bentham alla tassazione ottimale," Public Finance Research Papers 2, Istituto di Economia e Finanza, DSGE, Sapienza University of Rome.
    16. Fehr, Hans & Kindermann, Fabian, 2015. "Taxing capital along the transition—Not a bad idea after all?," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 64-77.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Progressive taxation; Optimal taxation; Life-cycle;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation

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