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Fair Income Tax

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  • Marc Fleurbaey
  • François Maniquet

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Marc Fleurbaey & François Maniquet, 2006. "Fair Income Tax," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(1), pages 55-83.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:73:y:2006:i:1:p:55-83
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1467-937X.2006.00369.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Seade, J. K., 1977. "On the shape of optimal tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 203-235, April.
    3. Tuomala, Matti, 1990. "Optimal Income Tax and Redistribution," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198286059.
    4. François Maniquet & Yves Sprumont, 2004. "Fair Production and Allocation of an Excludable Nonrival Good," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(2), pages 627-640, March.
    5. 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.
    6. Dirk Van de gaer & Marc Fleurbaey & Walter Bossert, 1999. "Responsibility, talent, and compensation: A second-best analysis," Review of Economic Design, Springer;Society for Economic Design, vol. 4(1), pages 35-55.
    7. Ebert, Udo, 1992. "A reexamination of the optimal nonlinear income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 47-73, October.
    8. Diamond, Peter A, 1998. "Optimal Income Taxation: An Example with a U-Shaped Pattern of Optimal Marginal Tax Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 83-95, March.
    9. J. A. Mirrlees, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 175-208.
    10. M. Fleurbaey & F. Maniquet, 2008. "Fair social orderings," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 34(1), pages 25-45, January.
    11. Marc Fleurbaey, 2005. "The Pazner-Schmeidler social ordering: A defense," Review of Economic Design, Springer;Society for Economic Design, vol. 9(2), pages 145-166, April.
    12. Marc Fleurbaey & Alain Trannoy, 2003. "The impossibility of a Paretian egalitarian," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 21(2), pages 243-263, October.
    13. 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.
    14. Efraim Sadka, 1976. "On Income Distribution, Incentive Effects and Optimal Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(2), pages 261-267.
    15. Marc Fleurbaey & Maurice Salles & John Weymark, 2008. "Justice, Political Liberalism and Utilitarianism," Post-Print hal-00246415, HAL.
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