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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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    References listed on IDEAS

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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. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Krzysztof Makarski & Joanna Tyrowicz & Marcin Bielecki, 2017. "Inequality in an OLG economy with heterogeneous cohorts and pension systems," GRAPE Working Papers 21, GRAPE Group for Research in Applied Economics.
    5. repec:eee:hapoch:v1_713 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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..
    9. Marcin Bielecki & Joanna Tyrowicz & Krzysztof Makarski & Marcin Waniek, 2015. "Inequalities in an OLG economy with heterogeneity within cohorts and pension systems," Working Papers 2015-16, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw.
    10. Ruggero Paladini, 2014. "Da Bentham alla tassazione ottimale," Public Finance Research Papers 2, Istituto di Economia e Finanza, DIGEF, Sapienza University of Rome.
    11. 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.
    12. Echevarría, Cruz A., 2012. "Income tax progressivity, physical capital, aggregate uncertainty and long-run growth in an OLG economy," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 955-974.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Progressive taxation; Optimal taxation; Life-cycle;

    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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