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A Test of the Theory of Optimal Taxation for the United States, 1869-1989

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  • Hess, Gregory D

Abstract

A popular theory of optimal tax policies suggests that tax rates should follow a random walk. This paper extends the existing empirical literature in three ways. First, the impact on the marginal utility of consumption when the government chooses a tax plan to smooth the distorting impact of taxes is considered. Second, exogenous changes in the real rate of interest are incorporated into the government's optimal tax plan. Finally, the tax elasticity of output is not constant over time. Allowing for these changes, there is evidence that the government discounts the future, attempts to smooth the distorting impact of taxes on the marginal utility of consumption, and that the tax elasticity of output moves predictably during wars. Copyright 1993 by MIT Press.

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  • Hess, Gregory D, 1993. "A Test of the Theory of Optimal Taxation for the United States, 1869-1989," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(4), pages 712-716, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:75:y:1993:i:4:p:712-16
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    Cited by:

    1. James M. Nason & Shaun P. Vahey, 2009. "U.K. World War I and interwar data for business cycle and growth analysis," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2009-18, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    2. Antje Berndt & Hanno Lustig & Şevin Yeltekin, 2012. "How Does the US Government Finance Fiscal Shocks?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 69-104, January.
    3. Maria Cornachione Kula, 2004. "U.S. States, the Medicaid Program, and Tax Smoothing," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 490-511, January.

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