IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/cdl/econwp/qt11j4756b.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Capital Levy in Theory and Practice

Author

Listed:
  • Eichengreen, Barry

Abstract

A capital levy is a one-time tax on all wealth holders with the goal of retiring public debt. This paper reconsiders the historical debate over the capital levy in a contingent capital taxation framework. This shows how in theory the imposition of a levy can be welfare improving when adopted to redress debt problems created by special circumstances, even if its nonrecurrence cannot be guaranteed. If the contingencies in response to which the levy is imposed are fully anticipated, independently verifiable and not under government control, then saving and investment should not fall following the imposition of the levy, nor should the government find it more difficult to raise revenues subsequently. In practice, serious problems stand in the way of implementation. A capital levy has profound distribution consequences. Property owners are sure to resist its adoption. In a democratic society, their objections are guaranteed to cause delay. This provides an opportunity for capital flight, reducing the prospective yield, and allows the special circumstances providing the justification for the levy to recede in the past. The only successful levies occur in cases like post-World War II Japan, where important elements of the democratic process are suppressed and where the fact that the levy was imposed by an outside power minimized the negative impact on the reputation of subsequent sovereign governments.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Eichengreen, Barry, 1989. "The Capital Levy in Theory and Practice," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt11j4756b, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:econwp:qt11j4756b
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/11j4756b.pdf;origin=repeccitec
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Henry Shavell, 1948. "Postwar Taxation in Japan," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 124-124.
    2. Grossman, Herschel I & Van Huyck, John B, 1988. "Sovereign Debt as a Contingent Claim: Excusable Default, Repudiation, and Reputation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 1088-1097, December.
    3. Chari, V V & Kehoe, Patrick J, 1990. "Sustainable Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(4), pages 783-802, August.
    4. V. V. Chari, 1988. "Time consistency and optimal policy design," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 17-31.
    5. Alberto Alesina, 1988. "Macroeconomics and Politics," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1988, Volume 3, pages 13-62 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Thomas J. Sargent, 1982. "The Ends of Four Big Inflations," NBER Chapters,in: Inflation: Causes and Effects, pages 41-98 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Abreu, Dilip, 1988. "On the Theory of Infinitely Repeated Games with Discounting," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 383-396, March.
    8. Fischer, Stanley, 1980. "Dynamic inconsistency, cooperation and the benevolent dissembling government," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 93-107, May.
    9. Prescott, Edward C., 1977. "Should control theory be used for economic stabilization?," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 13-38, January.
    10. Herschel I. Grossman, 1988. "The Political Economy of War Debts and Inflation," NBER Working Papers 2743, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Louis Kaplow, 2006. "Capital Levies and Transition to a Consumption Tax," NBER Working Papers 12259, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Giovannini, Alberto & Hines Jr, James R, 1990. "Capital Flight and Tax Competition: Are there Viable Solutions to Both Problems," CEPR Discussion Papers 416, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Nicolas Marceau & Michael Smart, 2000. "Business Tax Lobbying," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 102, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
    4. Alesina, Alberto & Drazen, Allan, 1991. "Why Are Stabilizations Delayed?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1170-1188, December.
    5. Michael D. Bordo & Pierre-Cyrille Hautcoeur, 2003. "Why didn't France follow the British Stabilization after World War One ?," DELTA Working Papers 2003-15, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
    6. Mario Sarcinelli, 2012. "Euro crisis or public debt crisis? With a remedy for the latter case," PSL Quarterly Review, Economia civile, vol. 65(262), pages 215-236.
    7. repec:ifs:fistud:v:37:y:2016:i::p:821-849 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:eee:macchp:v2-2493 is not listed on IDEAS

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cdl:econwp:qt11j4756b. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lisa Schiff). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/ibbrkus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.