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Nonlinear Tax Incidence and Optimal Taxation in General Equilibrium

Author

Listed:
  • Dominik Sachs
  • Aleh Tsyvinski
  • Nicolas Werquin

Abstract

We study the incidence and the optimal design of nonlinear income taxes in a Mirrleesian economy with a continuum of endogenous wages. We characterize analytically the incidence of any tax reform by showing that one can mathematically formalize this problem as an integral equation. For a CES production function, we show theoretically and numerically that the general equilibrium forces raise the revenue gains from increasing the progressivity of the U.S. tax schedule. This result is reinforced in the case of a Translog technology where closer skill types are stronger substitutes. We then characterize the optimum tax schedule, and derive a simple closed-form expression for the top tax rate. The U-shape of optimal marginal tax rates is more pronounced than in partial equilibrium. The joint analysis of tax incidence and optimal taxation reveals that the economic insights obtained for the optimum may be reversed when considering reforms of a suboptimal tax code.

Suggested Citation

  • Dominik Sachs & Aleh Tsyvinski & Nicolas Werquin, 2016. "Nonlinear Tax Incidence and Optimal Taxation in General Equilibrium," CESifo Working Paper Series 6089, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_6089
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. 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.
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    10. Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski & Nicolas Werquin, 2014. "A Variational Approach to the Analysis of Tax Systems," NBER Working Papers 20780, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Antràs, Pol & de Gortari, Alonso & Itskhoki, Oleg, 2017. "Globalization, inequality and welfare," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 387-412.
    2. Florian Scheuer & Joel Slemrod, 2019. "Taxation and the superrich," ECON - Working Papers 337, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    3. Aleh Tsyvinski & Nicolas Werquin, 2017. "Generalized Compensation Principle," NBER Working Papers 23509, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Jacobs, Bas & van der Ploeg, Frederick, 2019. "Redistribution and pollution taxes with non-linear Engel curves," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 198-226.
    5. Florian Scheuer & Joel Slemrod, 2019. "Taxation and the Superrich," CESifo Working Paper Series 7817, CESifo.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    nonlinear tax policy; tax incidence; optimal taxation; general equilibrium;

    JEL classification:

    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence

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