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Pareto-Improving Optimal Capital and Labor Taxes

We show a standard model where the optimal tax reform is to cut labor taxes and leave capital taxes very high in the short and medium run. Only in the very long run would capital taxes be zero. Our model is a version of Chamley??s, with heterogeneous agents, without lump sum transfers, an upper bound on capital taxes, and a focus on Pareto improving plans. For our calibration labor taxes should be low for the first ten to twenty years, while capital taxes should be at their maximum. This policy ensures that all agents benefit from the tax reform and that capital grows quickly after when the reform begins. Therefore, the long run optimal tax mix is the opposite from the short and medium run tax mix. The initial labor tax cut is financed by deficits that lead to a positive long run level of government debt, reversing the standard prediction that government accumulates savings in models with optimal capital taxes. If labor supply is somewhat elastic benefits from tax reform are high and they can be shifted entirely to capitalists or workers by varying the length of the transition. With inelastic labor supply there is an increasing part of the equilibrium frontier, this means that the scope for benefitting the workers is limited and the total benefits from reforming taxes are much lower.

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Paper provided by Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC) in its series UFAE and IAE Working Papers with number 733.08.

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Length: 54
Date of creation: 19 Feb 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:aub:autbar:733.08
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  1. Albert Marcet & Ramon Marimon, 2011. "Recursive Contracts," Economics Working Papers ECO2011/15, European University Institute.
  2. Juan Carlos Conesa & Dirk Krueger, 2005. "On the Optimal Progressivity of the Income Tax Code," NBER Working Papers 11044, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Albert Marcet & Francesc Obiols-Homs & Philippe Weil, 2007. "Incomplete Markets, Labor Supply and Capital Accumulation," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/8623, Sciences Po.
  4. Correia, Isabel, 1995. "Efficiency and Equity: Is There a Trade-off?," CEPR Discussion Papers 1218, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Niepelt, Dirk, 2002. "Tax Smoothing versus Tax Shifting," Seminar Papers 711, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  6. Giannitsarou, Chryssi, 2006. "Supply-side reforms and learning dynamics," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 291-309, March.
  7. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1994. "Optimal capital income taxation with incomplete markets, borrowing constraints, and constant discounting," Working Papers 508, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  8. Teresa Garcia-Milà & Albert Marcet & Eva Ventura, 1995. "Supply side interventions and redistribution," Economics Working Papers 115, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  9. Lawrence J. Lau & Yingyi Qian & Gerard Roland, 1997. "Reform without Losers: An Interpretation of China's Dual-Track Approach to Transition," Working Papers 97048, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  10. Kenneth L. Judd, 1982. "Redistributive Taxation in a Simple Perfect Foresight Model," Discussion Papers 572, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  11. Elisa Faraglia & Albert Marcet & Andrew Scott, 2011. "In Search of a Theory of Debt Management," CEP Discussion Papers dp1083, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  12. Chari, V.V. & Kehoe, Patrick J., 1999. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 26, pages 1671-1745 Elsevier.
  13. V.V. Chari & Lawrence J. Christiano & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1993. "Optimal fiscal policy in a business cycle model," Staff Report 160, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  14. Andrew Atkeson & V.V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1999. "Taxing capital income: a bad idea," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sum, pages 3-17.
  15. David Domeij & Jonathan Heathcote, 2004. "On The Distributional Effects Of Reducing Capital Taxes," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(2), pages 523-554, 05.
  16. Iván Werning, 2007. "Optimal Fiscal Policy with Redistribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 925-967, 08.
  17. Flodén, Martin, 2007. "Why Are Capital Income Taxes So High?," CEPR Discussion Papers 6366, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  18. Ellen McGrattan & Richard Rogerson & Randall Wright, 1995. "An equilibrium model of the business cycle with household production and fiscal policy," Staff Report 191, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  19. Chamley, Christophe, 2001. "Capital income taxation, wealth distribution and borrowing constraints," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 55-69, January.
  20. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-22, May.
  21. Jones, Larry E & Manuelli, Rodolfo E & Rossi, Peter E, 1993. "Optimal Taxation in Models of Endogenous Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 485-517, June.
  22. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1990. "Supply-Side Economics: An Analytical Review," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(2), pages 293-316, April.
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