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The Impact of Fundamental Tax Reform on the Allocation of Resources

In: Taxes and Capital Formation

  • Don Fullerton
  • Yolanda Henderson

Recent proposals for fundamental tax reform differ in their relative emphasis on interasset, intersectoral, interindustry, and intertemporal distortions. The model in this paper addresses these multiple issues in the design of taxes on capital incomes. It is capable of measuring the net effects of changes in statutory rates, credits, depreciation allowances, and other features such as the indexation of interest and capital gains. It can compare costs of capital for individual assets, sectors, arid industries, and it weighs these together to evaluate the impact on total investment incentives. In a fully general equilibrium system, it can simulate alternative resource allocations and associated changes in welfare. For the overall evaluation of alternative tax reform proposals, the simultaneous consideration of these multiple effects is crucial. The model is used to compare current law, the Treasury tax reform plan of November 1984, and the Presidents proposal of May 1985. Under the "new view" that dividend taxes have a small effect on investment incentives, both reforms would reduce interasset distortions and the Presidents plan would reduce intersectoral distortions, but the Treasury plan would exacerbate intertemporal distortions. Still, for most parameters, both reforms generate net welfare gains even with slight declines in the capital stock. Under the "old view" that dividend taxes have a significant effect on investment incentives, both plans reduce corporate taxation through their partial deductions for dividends paid. They thus reduce intersectoral distortions as well as differences among assets. Under this view, the Treasury plan no longer increases intertemporal distortions. Even for the least favorable set of parameters in this case, these reforms raise both the capital stock and the real value of output above their baseline values. Finally, the paper shows alternative allocations of capital among assets, sectors, and industries.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Martin Feldstein, 1987. "Taxes and Capital Formation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number feld87-2, August.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 7696.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:7696
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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    1. Boskin, Michael J, 1978. "Taxation, Saving, and the Rate of Interest," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(2), pages S3-27, April.
    2. Martin Feldstein & James M. Poterba & Louis Dicks-Mireaux, 1981. "The Effective Tax Rate and the Pretax Rate of Return," NBER Working Papers 0740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Alan J. Auerbach & James M. Poterba, 1987. "Tax Loss Carryforwards and Corporate Tax Incentives," NBER Chapters, in: The Effects of Taxation on Capital Accumulation, pages 305-342 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Bradford, David F., 1981. "The incidence and allocation effects of a tax on corporate distributions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 1-22, February.
    5. Don Fullerton, 1985. "The Indexation of Interest, Depreciation, and Capital Gains: A Model ofInvestment Incentives," NBER Working Papers 1655, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Joel Slemrod, 1985. "The Impact of Tax Reform on Households," NBER Working Papers 1765, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. James M. Poterba & Lawrence H. Summers, 1981. "Dividend Taxes, Corporate Investment, and "Q"," NBER Working Papers 0829, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Auerbach, Alan J., 1984. "Taxes, firm financial policy and the cost of capital: An empirical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1-2), pages 27-57.
    9. Charles L. Ballard & Don Fullerton & John B. Shoven & John Whalley, 1985. "Replacing the Personal Income Tax with a Progressive Consumption Tax," NBER Chapters, in: A General Equilibrium Model for Tax Policy Evaluation, pages 171-187 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Fullerton, Don & Henderson, Yolanda Kodrzycki, 1989. "A Disaggregate Equilibrium Model of the Tax Distortions among Assets, Sectors, and Industries," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 30(2), pages 391-413, May.
    11. Miller, Merton H, 1977. "Debt and Taxes," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 32(2), pages 261-75, May.
    12. Michael J. Boskin, 1978. "Taxation, Saving, and the Rate of Interest," NBER Chapters, in: Research in Taxation, pages 3-27 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. James M. Poterba & Lawrence H. Summers, 1984. "The Economic Effects of Dividend Taxation," Working papers 343, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    14. King, Mervyn A. & Fullerton, Don, 2010. "The Taxation of Income from Capital," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 0, number 9780226436319.
    15. Charles L. Ballard & Don Fullerton & John B. Shoven & John Whalley, 1985. "A General Equilibrium Model for Tax Policy Evaluation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number ball85-1, August.
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