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Optimal Linear Commodity Taxation under Optimal Non-Linear Income Taxation

  • Bas Jacobs
  • Robin Boadway

This paper analyzes optimal linear commodity taxes joint with non-linear income taxes. We provide optimal tax rules based on empirically observable elasticities. We demonstrate that commodities should be taxed/subsidized if doing so boosts labor supply. The critical role of commodity taxation is to alleviate distortions on labor supply caused by income taxation. In addition, we extend the standard formula for optimal non-linear income taxation for the presence of optimal linear commodity taxes. We correct parts of the literature that suggest that the optimal tax rules for commodity taxes derived by Atkinson and Stiglitz (1976, 1980) apply as well to linear tax commodity taxes. We show that the optimal second-best allocation cannot be implemented with linear commodity taxes and non-linear income taxes.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 4142.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4142
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  1. Kaplow, Louis, 2006. "On the undesirability of commodity taxation even when income taxation is not optimal," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(6-7), pages 1235-1250, August.
  2. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1976. "The design of tax structure: Direct versus indirect taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 55-75.
  3. Myles,Gareth D., 1995. "Public Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521497695.
  4. Gordon, Roger H. & Kopczuk, Wojciech, 2014. "The choice of the personal income tax base," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 97-110.
  5. Christiansen, Vidar, 1984. "Which commodity taxes should supplement the income tax?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 195-220, July.
  6. Jacobs, Bas & Boadway, Robin, 2014. "Optimal linear commodity taxation under optimal non-linear income taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 201-210.
  7. Diamond, P. A., 1975. "A many-person Ramsey tax rule," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 335-342, November.
  8. Jukka Pirttilä & Ilpo Suoniemi, 2014. "Public Provision, Commodity Demand, and Hours of Work: An Empirical Analysis," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 116(4), pages 1044-1067, October.
  9. Seade, J. K., 1977. "On the shape of optimal tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 203-235, April.
  10. Tuomala, Matti, 1984. "On the optimal income taxation : Some further numerical results," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 351-366, April.
  11. Anthony B. Atkinson, 1976. "Optimal Taxation and the Direct versus Indirect Tax Controversy," Working Papers 247, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  12. Sadka, Efraim, 1976. "On Income Distribution, Incentive Effects and Optimal Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(2), pages 261-67, June.
  13. J. A. Mirrlees, 1976. "Optimal Tax Theory: A Synthesis," Working papers 176, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  14. Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "The desirability of commodity taxation under non-linear income taxation and heterogeneous tastes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 217-230, February.
  15. Saez, Emmanuel, 2001. "Using Elasticities to Derive Optimal Income Tax Rates," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(1), pages 205-29, January.
  16. Browning, Martin & Meghir, Costas, 1991. "The Effects of Male and Female Labor Supply on Commodity Demands," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(4), pages 925-51, July.
  17. Ivan Werning & Emmanuel Farhi, 2009. "Capital Taxation: Quantitative Explorations of the Inverse Euler Equation," 2009 Meeting Papers 1262, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  18. Laroque, Guy R., 2005. "Indirect taxation is superfluous under separability and taste homogeneity: a simple proof," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 141-144, April.
  19. Diamond, Peter A, 1998. "Optimal Income Taxation: An Example with a U-Shaped Pattern of Optimal Marginal Tax Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 83-95, March.
  20. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1981. "Self-Selection and Pareto Efficient Taxation," NBER Working Papers 0632, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 175-208, April.
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