Individual Income Taxation: Income, Consumption, or Dual?
In the course of our study of individual tax systems, we necessarily touch on all of the above issues. Before doing so, it is worth emphasizing that the personal tax is one of three main broad-based taxes whose bases overlap to a considerable extent, the others being the VAT and payroll taxes. The bases of the latter two taxes are roughly similar in present value terms. They differ only to the extent that an individual’s net inheritances (the present value of inheritances less bequests) and other net transfers are positive. Both are essentially taxes that distort the labor-leisure choice (including the participation decision), at least to the extent that payroll taxes are not used to finance actuarially fair transfer programs. Thus, if payroll taxes finance the equivalent of fully contributory pension funds, they are unlikely to impose a distortion on the labor-leisure choice. In practice, payroll taxes are usually not earmarked to individual accounts so this is not an issue. Since for most taxpayers the bulk of taxable income consists of labor income, there is considerable overlap among the three bases. The main difference is that individual taxes might include elements of capital income in the base (for which the overlap might be with wealth or property taxes). That being the case, the overall tax rate faced by individuals includes all three tax rates.
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