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On the Optimality of Optimal Income Taxation

  • Felix Bierbrauer
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    The Mirrleesian model of income taxation restricts attention to simple allocation mechanism with no strategic interdependence, i.e., the optimal labor supply of any one individual does not depend on the labor supply of others. It has been argued by Piketty (1993) that this restriction is substantial because more sophisticated mechanisms can reach first-best allocations that are out of reach with simple mechanisms. In this paper, we assess the validity of Piketty’s critique in an independent private values model. As a main result, we show that the optimal sophisticated mechanism is a simple mechanism, or, equivalently, a Mirrleesian income tax system.

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    Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3163.

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    Date of creation: 2010
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    Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3163
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    1. Dirk Bergemann & Stephen Morris, 2003. "Robust Mechanism Design," Levine's Bibliography 666156000000000035, UCLA Department of Economics.
    2. Felix Bierbrauer & Pierre C. Boyer, 2010. "The Pareto-Frontier in a simple Mirrleesian model of income taxation," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2010_16, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    3. Narayana Kocherlakota, 2004. "Zero Expected Wealth Taxes: A Mirrlees Approach to Dynamic Optimal Taxation," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000729, UCLA Department of Economics.
    4. Jonathan Hamilton & Steven Slutsky, 2003. "Optimal Nonlinear Income Taxation with a Finite Population," Levine's Working Paper Archive 234936000000000079, David K. Levine.
    5. Martin Hellwig, 2005. "The Undesirability of Randomized Income Taxation under Decreasing Risk Aversion," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2005_27, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    6. Hammond, Peter J, 1979. "Straightforward Individual Incentive Compatibility in Large Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(2), pages 263-82, April.
    7. Ledyard, John O., . "Incentive Compatibility and Incomplete Information," Working Papers 187, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
    8. Mikhail Golosov & Narayana Kocherlakota & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2001. "Optimal indirect and capital taxation," Staff Report 293, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    9. Narayana Kocherlakota & Christopher Phelan, 2007. "On the Robustness of Laissez-Faire," Levine's Bibliography 843644000000000165, UCLA Department of Economics.
    10. Egbert Dierker & Hans Haller, 1990. "Tax systems and direct mechanisms in large finite economies," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 52(2), pages 99-116, June.
    11. Martin Hellwig, 2005. "A Contribution to the Theory of Optimal Utilitarian Income Taxation," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2005_23, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    12. Piketty Thomas, 1993. "Implementation of First-Best Allocations via Generalized Tax Schedules," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 23-41, October.
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