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On the Optimality of Joint Taxation for Non-Cooperative Couples

  • Volker Meier


  • Helmut Rainer


We present a non-cooperative model of a family’s time allocation between work and a home-produced public good, and examine whether the income tax should apply to couples or individuals. While tax-induced labor supply distortions lead to overprovision of the public good, spouses’ failure to internalize the collective effect of their choices points towards underprovision. A large parameter range exists for which a move from individual to joint taxation improves the welfare of both spouses. The source of Pareto-improvement consists in moving the level of the public good closer to its first-best, while an adjustment of intra-family transfers compensates the secondary earner for the increased tax load.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3128.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3128
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  1. Michael J. Boskin & Eytan Sheshinski, 1979. "Optimal Tax Treatment of the Family: Married Couples," NBER Working Papers 0368, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  3. Alesina, Alberto & Ichino, Andrea & Karabarbounis, Loukas, 2007. "Gender Based Taxation and the Division of Family Chores," IZA Discussion Papers 3233, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  5. Konrad, Kai A & Lommerud, Kjell Erik, 1995. " Family Policy with Non-cooperative Families," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(4), pages 581-601, December.
  6. Volker Meier & Matthias Wrede, 2013. "Reducing the excess burden of subsidizing the stork: joint taxation, individual taxation, and family tax splitting," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(3), pages 1195-1207, July.
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  8. Patricia Apps & Ray Rees, 2011. "Relational Contracts, Taxation and the Household," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 57(2), pages 245-258, June.
  9. Zhiqi Chen & Frances Woolley, 1999. "A Cournot-Nash Model of Family Decision Making," Carleton Economic Papers 99-13, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2001.
  10. Apps, Patricia & Rees, Ray, 1999. "On the taxation of trade within and between households," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 241-263, August.
  11. Rainer, Helmut, 2007. "Should we write prenuptial contracts?," Munich Reprints in Economics 19819, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
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  13. Apps,Patricia & Rees,Ray, 2009. "Public Economics and the Household," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521887878, September.
  14. Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Claus Thustrup Kreiner & Emmanuel Saez, 2009. "The Optimal Income Taxation of Couples," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(2), pages 537-560, 03.
  15. Pollak, Robert A, 1985. "A Transaction Cost Approach to Families and Households," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 23(2), pages 581-608, June.
  16. Patricia F. Apps & Ray Rees, 1999. "Individual versus Joint Taxation in Models with Household Production," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(2), pages 393-403, April.
  17. Barham, Vicky & Devlin, Rose Anne & Yang, Jie, 2009. "A theory of rational marriage and divorce," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 93-106, January.
  18. Patricia Apps & Ray Rees, 2007. "The Taxation of Couples," Discussion Papers 07/21, Department of Economics, University of York.
  19. Peter Gottfried & Wolfram Richter, 1999. "The Tax Unit and Household Production: Comment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(2), pages 404-409, April.
  20. Dan Anderberg, 2007. "Inefficient households and the mix of government spending," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 131(1), pages 127-140, April.
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