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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. Felix Bierbrauer & Pierre C. Boyer, 2013. "The Pareto-Frontier in a Simple Mirrleesian Model of Income Taxation," CESifo Working Paper Series 4399, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. 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.
    3. Dirk Bergemann & Stephen Morris, 2003. "Robust Mechanism Design," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1421, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    4. Hellwig, Martin F., 2007. "A contribution to the theory of optimal utilitarian income taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(7-8), pages 1449-1477, August.
    5. Mikhail Golosov & Narayana Kocherlakota & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2002. "Optimal Indirect and Capital Taxation," NajEcon Working Paper Reviews 391749000000000449, www.najecon.org.
    6. Ledyard, John O., 1978. "Incentive compatibility and incomplete information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 171-189, June.
    7. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 2003. "Zero Expected Wealth Taxes: A Mirrlees Approach to Dynamic Optimal Taxation," Levine's Bibliography 666156000000000426, UCLA Department of Economics.
    8. Hamilton, Jonathan & Slutsky, Steven, 2007. "Optimal nonlinear income taxation with a finite population," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 132(1), pages 548-556, January.
    9. Hammond, Peter J, 1979. "Straightforward Individual Incentive Compatibility in Large Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(2), pages 263-82, April.
    10. Kocherlakota, Narayana & Phelan, Christopher, 2009. "On the robustness of laissez-faire," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(6), pages 2372-2387, November.
    11. Piketty Thomas, 1993. "Implementation of First-Best Allocations via Generalized Tax Schedules," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 23-41, October.
    12. 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.
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