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Pareto-Improving Optimal Capital and Labor Taxes

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Abstract

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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  • Albert Marcet & Katharina Greulich, 2008. "Pareto-Improving Optimal Capital and Labor Taxes," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 733.08, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  • Handle: RePEc:aub:autbar:733.08
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    Cited by:

    1. Konstantinos Angelopoulos & Jim Malley & Apostolis Philippopoulos, 2011. "Time-consistent Fiscal Policy under Heterogeneity: Conflicting or Common Interests?," CESifo Working Paper Series 3444, CESifo.
    2. Juan Carlos Conesa & Begona Dominguez, 2020. "Capital Taxes and Redistribution: The Role of Management Time and Tax Deductible Investment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 37, pages 156-172, July.
    3. Röhrs, Sigrid & Winter, Christoph, 2017. "Reducing government debt in the presence of inequality," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 1-20.
    4. Sofía Bauducco, 2011. "Seigniorage and Distortionary Taxation in a Model with Heterogeneous Agents and Idiosyncratic Uncertainty," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 611, Central Bank of Chile.
    5. Tobon Orozco, David & Molina Guerra, Carlos & Vargas Cano, John Harvey, 2016. "Extent of Expected Pigouvian Taxes and Permits for Environmental Services in a General Equilibrium Model with a natural capital constraint," Borradores Departamento de Economía 015258, Universidad de Antioquia - CIE.
    6. François Le Grand & Xavier Ragot, 2017. "Optimal Fiscal Policy with Heterogeneous Agents and Aggregate Shocks," Sciences Po Economics Discussion Papers 2017-03, Sciences Po Departement of Economics.
    7. Juan Carlos Conesa & Begona Dominguez, 2020. "Capital Taxes and Redistribution: The Role of Management Time and Tax Deductible Investment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 37, pages 156-172, July.
    8. Torben Andersen & Joydeep Bhattacharya, 2020. "Intergenerational Debt Dynamics Without Tears," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 35, pages 192-219, January.
    9. Maria Ferrara & Patrizio Tirelli, 2014. "Fiscal Consolidations: Can We Reap the Gain and Escape the Pain?," Working Papers 283, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2014.
    10. Chari, V.V. & Nicolini, Juan Pablo & Teles, Pedro, 2020. "Optimal capital taxation revisited," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 147-165.
    11. Konstantinos Angelopoulos & Bernardo X. Fernandez & James Malley, 2010. "The distributional consequences of supply-side reforms in general equilibrium," Working Papers 2010_26, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow, revised Jun 2012.
    12. Ferrara, Maria & Tirelli, Patrizio, 2017. "Equitable fiscal consolidations," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 207-223.
    13. Roberta, Cardani & Lorenzo, Menna & Patrizio, Tirelli, 2016. "Optimal Public Debt Consolidation with Distributional Conflicts," Working Papers 350, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised 05 Oct 2016.

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    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation

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