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Fair Income Tax

  • Marc Fleurbaey
  • Fran�ois Maniquet

In a model where agents have unequal skills and heterogeneous preferences over consumption and leisure, we look for the optimal tax on the basis of efficiency and fairness principles and under incentive-compatibility constraints. The fairness principles considered here are: (1) a weak version of the Pigou—Dalton transfer principle; (2) a condition precluding redistribution when all agents have the same skills. With such principles we construct and justify specific social preferences and derive a simple criterion for the evaluation of income tax schedules. Namely, the lower the greatest average tax rate over the range of low incomes, the better. We show that, as a consequence, the optimal tax should give the greatest subsidies to the working poor (the agents having the lowest skill and choosing the largest labour time). Copyright 2006, Wiley-Blackwell.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1467-937X.2006.00369.x
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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Review of Economic Studies.

Volume (Year): 73 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 55-83

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Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:73:y:2006:i:1:p:55-83
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  1. Marc Fleurbaey, 2001. "The Pazner-Schmeidler Social Ordering: A Defense," Working Papers 328, Bielefeld University, Center for Mathematical Economics.
  2. Diamond, P., 1994. "Optimal Income Taxation: An Exemple with a U-Shaped Pattern of Optimal Marginal Tax Rates," Working papers 94-14, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Fleurbaey, Marc & Maniquet, Francois, 1996. "Fair allocation with unequal production skills: The No Envy approach to compensation," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 71-93, August.
  4. MANIQUET, François & SPRUMONT, Yves, . "Fair production and allocation of an excludable nonrival good," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1735, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  5. FLEURBAEY, Marc & MANIQUET, François, . "Fair social orderings," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1995, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  6. Fleurbaey, Marc & Suzumura, Kotaro & Tadenuma, Koichi, 2000. "Informational Requirements for Social Choice in Economic Environments," Discussion Papers 2000-07, Graduate School of Economics, Hitotsubashi University.
  7. M. Fleurbaey & A. Trannoy, 2000. "The Impossibility of a Paretian Egalitarian," THEMA Working Papers 2000-26, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  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. Ebert, Udo, 1992. "A reexamination of the optimal nonlinear income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 47-73, October.
  10. M. Fleurbaey & F. Maniquet, 2000. "Fair Social Orderings With Unequal Production Skills," THEMA Working Papers 2000-17, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  11. Dirk Van de gaer & Marc Fleurbaey & Walter Bossert, 1999. "Responsibility, talent, and compensation: A second-best analysis," Review of Economic Design, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 35-55.
  12. Tuomala, Matti, 1990. "Optimal Income Tax and Redistribution," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198286059, March.
  13. Sadka, Efraim, 1976. "On Income Distribution, Incentive Effects and Optimal Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(2), pages 261-67, June.
  14. Seade, J. K., 1977. "On the shape of optimal tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 203-235, April.
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