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Taxing Atlas: Executive Compensation, Firm Size and Their Impact on Optimal Top Income Tax Rates

Author

Listed:
  • Laurence Ales

    (Carnegie Mellon University)

  • Antonio Andres Bellofatto

    (University of Queensland)

  • Jessie Jiaxu Wang

    (Arizona State University)

Abstract

We study the optimal taxation of top labor incomes. Top income earners are modeled as managers who operate a span of control technology as in Rosen (1982). Managers are heterogeneous across talent, which is both effort-augmenting and total-factor-productivity improving. The latter gives rise to a positive scale-of-operations effect. A tax formula for optimal taxes is derived linking optimal marginal tax rates to preferences and technology parameters. We show how to quantify the model using readily available firm-level data. Our benchmark calibration focuses on the US. Our results suggest that optimal top taxes are roughly in line with the current statutory rates and, thus, are significantly lower than what previous optimal taxation studies that ignore the scale-of-operations effect have shown. Similar quantitative findings hold when we extend the analysis to a panel of developed countries. (Copyright: Elsevier)

Suggested Citation

  • Laurence Ales & Antonio Andres Bellofatto & Jessie Jiaxu Wang, 2017. "Taxing Atlas: Executive Compensation, Firm Size and Their Impact on Optimal Top Income Tax Rates," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 26, pages 62-90, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:issued:16-214
    DOI: 10.1016/j.red.2017.02.007
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    Cited by:

    1. Laurence Ales & Christopher Sleet, 2016. "Taxing Top CEO Incomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(11), pages 3331-3366, November.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • M12 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Personnel Management; Executives; Executive Compensation
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects

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