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Taxation without commitment

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  • Catarina Reis

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Abstract

This paper considers a Ramsey model of linear capital and labor income taxation in which a benevolent government cannot commit ex-ante to a sequence of policies for the future. In this setup, if the government is forced to keep budget balance in every period, then it may not be able to sustain zero capital taxes in the long run, as shown in Benhabib and Rustichini (J Econ Theory 77:231–259, 1997 ) and Phelan and Stachetti (Econometrica 69:1491–1518, 2001 ). However, (Dominguez in J Econ Theory 135:159–170, 2007 ) shows that if the government is allowed to borrow and lend to households, the optimal capital income tax still converges to zero in the long run, as long as the value of defaulting is independent of the level of government debt. This paper provides a game theoretic setup with government debt where the value of the worst equilibrium only depends on the initial level of capital and can be determined in advance. This implies that under our assumptions the best sustainable equilibrium has zero capital taxes in the long run, even in the absence of government commitment. Copyright Springer-Verlag 2013

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  • Catarina Reis, 2013. "Taxation without commitment," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 52(2), pages 565-588, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:joecth:v:52:y:2013:i:2:p:565-588
    DOI: 10.1007/s00199-011-0656-0
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    Cited by:

    1. Ricardo Nunes & Davide Debortoli, 2007. "Political Disagreement, Lack of Commitment and the Level of Debt," 2007 Meeting Papers 725, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Reis, Catarina, 2012. "Social discounting and incentive compatible fiscal policy," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(6), pages 2469-2482.
    3. Acemoglu, Daron & Golosov, Mikhail & Tsyvinski, Aleh, 2011. "Political economy of Ramsey taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 467-475.
    4. Stefania Albanesi & Roc Armenter, 2012. "Intertemporal Distortions in the Second Best," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(4), pages 1271-1307.
    5. Aguiar, Mark & Amador, Manuel, 2016. "Fiscal policy in debt constrained economies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 161(C), pages 37-75.
    6. Takashi Kamihigashi, 2014. "Elementary results on solutions to the bellman equation of dynamic programming: existence, uniqueness, and convergence," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 56(2), pages 251-273, June.
    7. Niko Jaakkola & Daniel Spiro, 2016. "Finders, Keepers?," Working Papers id:11118, eSocialSciences.
    8. Brendon, Charles & Ellison, Martin, 2018. "Time-consistently undominated policies," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 87176, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    9. Takashi Kamihigashi, 2014. "An order-theoretic approach to dynamic programming: an exposition," Economic Theory Bulletin, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 2(1), pages 13-21, April.
    10. Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Giorgia Giovannetti & Ramon Marimon & Pedro Teles, 2008. "Nominal Debt as a Burden on Monetary Policy," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(3), pages 493-514, July.
    11. Yusuke Kinai, 2011. "Optimal Degree of Commitment in a Tax Policy," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 11-11, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP).
    12. Salvador Ortigueira & Joana Pereira, 2007. "Markov-Perfect Optimal Fiscal Policy: The Case of Unbalanced Budgets," Economics Working Papers ECO2007/41, European University Institute.
    13. Martin Ellison & Charles Brendon, 2015. "Time-Consistent Institutional Design," 2015 Meeting Papers 495, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    14. José-María Da-Rocha & Eduardo-Luis Giménez & Francisco-Xavier Lores, 2013. "Self-fulfilling crises with default and devaluation," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 53(3), pages 499-535, August.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fiscal policy; Optimal taxation; Debt; Game theory; E62; H21; H63; C7;

    JEL classification:

    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation

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