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Optimal Redistribution and Monitoring of Labor Effort

Author

Listed:
  • Floris Zoutman
  • Bas Jacobs

Abstract

This paper extends the Mirrlees (1971) model of optimal non-linear income taxation with a monitoring technology that allows the government to verify labor effort at a positive, but non-infinite cost. Monitored individuals receive a penalty, which increases if individuals earn a lower income (provide less work effort) or have a higher earning ability. We analyze the joint determination of the non-linear monitoring and tax schedules and the conditions under which these can be implemented. Monitoring of labor effort reduces the distortions created by income taxation and raises optimal marginal tax rates, possibly above 100 percent. The optimal intensity of monitoring increases with the marginal tax rate and the labor-supply elasticity. Our simulations demonstrate that monitoring strongly alleviates the trade-off between equity and efficiency as welfare gains of monitoring are around 1.4 percent of total output. The optimal intensity of monitoring follows a U-shaped pattern, similar to that of optimal marginal tax rates. Our paper explains why large welfare states optimally rely on work-dependent tax credits, active labor-market policies, benefit sanctions and work bonuses in welfare programs to redistribute income efficiently.

Suggested Citation

  • Floris Zoutman & Bas Jacobs, 2014. "Optimal Redistribution and Monitoring of Labor Effort," CESifo Working Paper Series 4646, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4646
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    File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp4646.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Bas Jacobs, 2013. "From Optimal Tax Theory to Applied Tax Policy," CESifo Working Paper Series 4151, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    optimal non-linear taxation; monitoring; costly verification ability/effort; optimal redistribution;

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household

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