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On Policy Relevance of Ramsey Tax Rules

The Ramsey approach to optimal taxation and Ramsey tax rules have amassed substance in economic theory. However, they are often criticized on grounds of practicality, fairness, feasibility and some other aspects of designing actual tax policy. This paper contests these criticisms; it discusses how closely or remotely Ramsey rules are followed in designing tax policy. It argues that the most of these common criticisms, be it realistic, such as administrative and compliance costs, or be it rather abstract, such as fairness, are either unimportant or irrelevant for Ramsey taxation. The more important inadequacy of the traditional Ramsey tax models is the selective modelling of incentive effects of tax reforms and their limited applicability for designing tax policy in developing countries.

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Paper provided by Cardiff University, Cardiff Business School, Economics Section in its series Cardiff Economics Working Papers with number E2006/19.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2006
Date of revision: Jul 2006
Publication status: Published in economics-ejournal economics discussion Papers, No 2007-31. http://www.economics-ejournal.org/economics/discussionpapers/2007-31
Handle: RePEc:cdf:wpaper:2006/19
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Web page: http://business.cardiff.ac.uk/research/academic-sections/economics/working-papers

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  1. P. A. Diamond, 1975. "A Many-Person Ramsey Tax Rule," Working papers 146, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Cohen, Daniel & Michel, Philippe, 1988. "How Should Control Theory Be Used to Calculate a Time-Consistent Government Policy?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(2), pages 263-74, April.
  3. Judd, Kenneth L., 1985. "Redistributive taxation in a simple perfect foresight model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 59-83, October.
  4. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-22, May.
  5. Jones, Larry E. & Manuelli, Rodolfo E. & Rossi, Peter E., 1997. "On the Optimal Taxation of Capital Income," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 93-117, March.
  6. Robin Boadway & Michael Keen, 1993. "Evasion and time consistency in the taxation of capital income," IFS Working Papers W93/20, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
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  9. Kemp, Murray C & Long, Ngo Van & Shimomura, Koji, 1993. "Cyclical and Noncyclical Redistributive Taxation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 34(2), pages 415-29, May.
  10. Barro, Robert J., 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Scholarly Articles 3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  11. Atkinson, A B & Sandmo, A, 1980. "Welfare Implications of the Taxation of Savings," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(359), pages 529-49, September.
  12. Ordover, J. A. & Phelps, E. S., 1979. "The concept of optimal taxation in the overlapping-generations model of capital and wealth," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 1-26, August.
  13. Robert E. Lucas Jr. & Nancy L. Stokey, 1982. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy in an Economy Without Capital," Discussion Papers 532, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  14. Renstrom, Thomas I, 1996. "Endogenous Taxation: An Overlapping Generations Approach," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(435), pages 471-82, March.
  15. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-91, June.
  16. Diamond, Peter A & Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "Optimal Taxation and Public Production II: Tax Rules," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(3), pages 261-78, June.
  17. Diamond, Peter A & Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "Optimal Taxation and Public Production: I--Production Efficiency," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(1), pages 8-27, March.
  18. Chamley, Christophe, 1985. "Efficient Taxation in a Stylized Model of Intertemporal General Equilibrium," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 26(2), pages 451-68, June.
  19. Kydland, Finn E. & Prescott, Edward C., 1980. "Dynamic optimal taxation, rational expectations and optimal control," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 79-91, May.
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