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Optimal Income Taxation with Uncertain Earnings: A Synthesis

  • Robin Boadway
  • Motohiro Sato

We study optimal nonlinear income taxation when earnings can differ because of both ability and luck, so the income tax has both a redistributive role and an insurance role. A substantial literature on optimal redistribution in the absence of uncertainty has evolved since Mirrlees’ original contribution. The literature on the income tax as a social insurance device is more limited. It has largely assumed that households are ex ante identical so unequal earnings are due to uncertainty alone. We provide a general treatment of the optimal income tax under uncertainty when households differ in ability. We characterize optimal marginal tax rates and interpret them in terms of redistribution, insurance and incentive effects. The case of ex ante identical households and the no-risk case with heterogeneous abilities come out as special cases.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2011/wp-cesifo-2011-11/cesifo1_wp3654.pdf
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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3654.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3654
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  1. Robin Boadway & Laurence Jacquet, 2006. "Optimal Marginal and Average Income Taxation under Maxi-min," Working Papers 1073, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  2. repec:hal:journl:hal-00246569 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. repec:hal:journl:hal-00246842 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Paul R. Milgrom, 1981. "Good News and Bad News: Representation Theorems and Applications," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(2), pages 380-391, Autumn.
  5. Kanbur, Ravi & Pirttila, Jukka & Tuomala, Matti, 2004. "Moral Hazard, Income Taxation, And Prospect Theory," Working Papers 127136, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  6. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521497695 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Juan Carlos Conesa & Sagiri Kitao & Dirk Krueger, 2009. "Taxing Capital? Not a Bad Idea after All!," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 25-48, March.
  8. Anderberg, Dan & Andersson, Fredrik, 2003. "Investments in human capital, wage uncertainty, and public policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(7-8), pages 1521-1537, August.
  9. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz, 1999. " Uncertainty, Commitment, and Optimal Taxation," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 1(1), pages 51-70.
  10. Robin Boadway & Maurice Marchand & Pierre Pestieau & María del Mar Racionero, 2002. "Optimal Redistribution with Heterogeneous Preferences for Leisure," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 4(4), pages 475-498, October.
  11. Dirk Schindler & Hongyan Yang, 2010. "Catalysts for Social Insurance: Education Subsidies vs. Real Capital Taxation," CESifo Working Paper Series 3278, CESifo Group Munich.
  12. FLEURBAEY, Marc & MANIQUET, François, . "Fair income tax," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1845, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  13. Bas Jacobs & Dirk Schindler & Hongyan Yang, 2009. "Optimal Taxation of Risky Human Capital," CESifo Working Paper Series 2529, CESifo Group Munich.
  14. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz, 1995. "Uncertainty, Optimal Taxation and the Direct versus Indirect Tax Controversy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(432), pages 1165-79, September.
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