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International Tax Competition: Zero Tax Rate at the Top Re-established


  • Tomer Blumkin
  • Efraim Sadka
  • Yotam Shem-Tov


In this paper we extend the zero tax at the top result obtained in the closed economy case with bounded skill distributions for the case of unbounded skill distributions in the presence of international labor mobility and tax competition. We show that in the equilibrium for the tax competition game the optimal marginal income tax rate converges to zero as the income level tends to infinity. We further show in simulations that the zero marginal tax result is not a local property: over a large range at the higher end of the income distribution, the optimal tax is approximately given by a lump-sum tax set at its Laffer rate. We further show that the range in which the optimal marginal tax is approximately set to zero is widening as migration costs decrease.

Suggested Citation

  • Tomer Blumkin & Efraim Sadka & Yotam Shem-Tov, 2012. "International Tax Competition: Zero Tax Rate at the Top Re-established," CESifo Working Paper Series 3820, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3820

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Peter Diamond & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "The Case for a Progressive Tax: From Basic Research to Policy Recommendations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 165-190, Fall.
    2. N. Gregory Mankiw & Matthew Weinzierl & Danny Yagan, 2009. "Optimal Taxation in Theory and Practice," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(4), pages 147-174, Fall.
    3. Gwenael Piaser, 2003. "Labor Mobility and Income Tax Competition," Public Economics 0302002, EconWPA.
    4. Seade, J. K., 1977. "On the shape of optimal tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 203-235, April.
    5. Tuomala, Matti, 1990. "Optimal Income Tax and Redistribution," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198286059.
    6. Salanié, Bernard, 2011. "The Economics of Taxation," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262016346, January.
    7. J. A. Mirrlees, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 175-208.
    8. Efraim Sadka, 1976. "On Income Distribution, Incentive Effects and Optimal Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(2), pages 261-267.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bierbrauer, Felix & Brett, Craig & Weymark, John A., 2013. "Strategic nonlinear income tax competition with perfect labor mobility," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 292-311.

    More about this item


    tax competition; migration; zero marginal tax at the top;

    JEL classification:

    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • H50 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - General


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