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Optimal Taxation with Current and Future Cohorts

  • Hans Fehr
  • Fabian Kindermann

This note demonstrates that optimal tax calculations in overlapping generations models should not be based exclusively on long-run welfare changes. As the latter represent a mix of efficiency and intergenerational redistribution effects, they typically favor policies which redistribute towards future cohorts. Taking the recent study of Conesa et al. (2009) as an example, we explicitly consider short- and long-run welfare effects and isolate the aggregate efficiency consequences of a tax reform. Based on this aggregate efficiency measure, we find a much lower capital income tax rate and a significantly less progressive labor income tax schedule than Conesa et al. (2009) to be optimal. As we demonstrate, the optimality of capital income taxation is explained by the low interest elasticity of precautionary savings compared to that of life-cycle savings.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3973.

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Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3973
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  1. Kitao, Sagiri, 2010. "Labor-dependent capital income taxation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(8), pages 959-974, November.
  2. Conesa, Juan Carlos & Krueger, Dirk, 2005. "On the Optimal Progressivity of the Income Tax Code," CEPR Discussion Papers 5040, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Pok-sang Lam & Stephen G. Cecchetti & Nelson C. Mark, 2000. "Asset Pricing with Distorted Beliefs: Are Equity Returns Too Good to Be True?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 787-805, September.
  4. Hans Fehr & Christian Habermann, 2005. "Risk Sharing and Efficiency Implications of Progressive Pension Arrangements," DNB Working Papers 064, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  5. Conesa, Juan Carlos & Kitao, Sagiri & Krueger, Dirk, 2006. "Taxing Capital? Not a Bad Idea After All!," CEPR Discussion Papers 5929, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Andrés Erosa & Martin Gervais, 1998. "Optimal Taxation in Life-Cycle Economies," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 9812, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  7. HUANG, HE & IMROHOROG[caron]LU, SELAHATTIN & SARGENT, THOMAS J., 1997. "Two Computations To Fund Social Security," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(01), pages 7-44, January.
  8. Mankiw, N. Gregory & Weinzierl, Matthew Charles & Yagan, Danny Ferris, 2009. "Optimal Taxation in Theory and Practice," Scholarly Articles 4263739, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  9. Kjetil Storesletten & Chris I. Telmer & Amir Yaron, 2000. "Consumption and Risk Sharing Over the Life Cycle," NBER Working Papers 7995, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Shinichi Nishiyama & Kent Smetters, 2005. "Consumption Taxes and Economic Efficiency with Idiosyncratic Wage Shocks," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(5), pages 1088-1115, October.
  11. Cagri Seda Kumru & John Piggott, 2012. "Optimal Capital Income Taxation with Means-tested Benefits," DEGIT Conference Papers c017_019, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  12. Christian Habermann & Fabian Kindermann, 2007. "Multidimensional Spline Interpolation: Theory and Applications," Computational Economics, Society for Computational Economics, vol. 30(2), pages 153-169, September.
  13. Makoto Nakajima, 2010. "Optimal capital income taxation with housing," Working Papers 10-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  14. Peter A. Diamond & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "The Case for a Progressive Tax: From Basic Research to Policy Recommendations," CESifo Working Paper Series 3548, CESifo Group Munich.
  15. Gouveia, Miguel & Strauss, Robert P., 1994. "Effective Federal Individual Tax Functions: An Exploratory Empirical Analysis," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 47(2), pages 317-39, June.
  16. Marco Cagetti, 2001. "Interest Elasticity in a Life-Cycle Model with Precautionary Savings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 418-421, May.
  17. repec:oup:qjecon:v:122:y:2007:i:4:p:1677-1719 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Epstein, Larry G & Zin, Stanley E, 1991. "Substitution, Risk Aversion, and the Temporal Behavior of Consumption and Asset Returns: An Empirical Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(2), pages 263-86, April.
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