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Optimal income tax under the threat of migration by top-income earners

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  • Simula, Laurent
  • Trannoy, Alain

Abstract

We examine how allowing individuals to emigrate to pay lower taxes changes the optimal nonlinear income tax scheme in a Mirrleesian economy. An individual emigrates if his domestic utility is less than his utility abroad, net of migration costs -- utilities and costs both depending on productivity. A simple formula, that complements Saez's formula obtained in closed economy, is derived for the marginal tax rates faced by top-income earners. It depends on the labour elasticity, the tax rate abroad and the migration costs expressed as a fraction of the utility obtained abroad. The Rawlsian marginal tax rates, obtained for the whole population, illustrate a curse of the middle-skilled. Simulations are provided for the French economy.

Suggested Citation

  • Simula, Laurent & Trannoy, Alain, 2010. "Optimal income tax under the threat of migration by top-income earners," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 163-173, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:94:y:2010:i:1-2:p:163-173
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Optimal income taxation Top-income Emigration Participation constraints;

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household

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