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Taxing the Job Creators: Efficient Progressive Taxation with Wage Bargaining

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  • Nicholas Lawson

    (Aix-Marseille University (Aix-Marseille School of Economics), CNRS & EHESS)

Abstract

The standard economic view of the personal income tax is that it is a distortionary way of raising revenue which nonetheless has value because it tends to increase equality. However, when wages deviate from marginal product, the laissez-faire equilibrium is inefficient, and there can be an independent efficiency rationale for income taxation. I study a setting of wage bargaining within hierarchical teams of workers and managers, and show that the efficiency case for taxing managers depends on a "job-creation" effect: if increased labour supply allows managers to supervise larger teams and thus collect larger rents, they will have an incentive to work too hard to create jobs at their firm. In other words, it is because of their job-creation activity that the "job creators" should be heavily taxed. Simulation of a calibrated model suggests an efficient tax schedule that is progressive over most of the income distribution with a top marginal rate of between 50% and 60%, and this result is not sensitive to the magnitude of the labour supply response to taxation. For a planner with redistributive motives, optimal marginal tax rates are also considerably higher at the top of the distribution in the presence of wage bargaining rather than a competitive labour market.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicholas Lawson, 2014. "Taxing the Job Creators: Efficient Progressive Taxation with Wage Bargaining," AMSE Working Papers 1442, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, France, revised Aug 2014.
  • Handle: RePEc:aim:wpaimx:1442
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Keywords

    optimal income taxation; progressive taxation; wage bargaining; team production;
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