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Flat Tax Reforms: Investment Expensing And Progressivity

In this article we quantify the aggregate, distributional and welfare consequences of investment expensing and progressivity in flat-tax reforms of the United Sates economy. We find that investment expensing as in the Hall and Rabushka type of reform brings about sizable output gains and non-trivial increase in after-tax income inequality. But we also find that it results in large aggregate welfare gains in steady-state. Two additional flat-tax reforms with full investment expensing and varying degrees of progressivity reveal that the distributional role of the tax-exemption in the labor income tax is limited. But we also find that the progressivity of the reforms matters for welfare: economies with more progressive consumption-based flat-taxes are good for the very poor and are ultimately preferred by a Benthamite social planner because they allow households to do more consumption and leisure smoothing. Our findings suggest that moving towards a progressive consumption-based flat tax scheme could achieve the goals of raising government income, stimulating the economy and providing a safety net for the households that have been hit the hardest by the recession.

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Paper provided by CEMFI in its series Working Papers with number wp2011_1101.

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Date of creation: Jan 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cmf:wpaper:wp2011_1101
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  1. Aaron, Henry J. & Munnell, Alicia H., 1992. "Reassessing the Role for Wealth Transfer Taxes," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 45(2), pages 119-43, June.
  2. Huggett, Mark, 1993. "The risk-free rate in heterogeneous-agent incomplete-insurance economies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 17(5-6), pages 953-969.
  3. Mariacristina De Nardi, 2004. "Wealth Inequality and Intergenerational Links," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(3), pages 743-768.
  4. Guner, Nezih & Kaygusuz, Remzi & Ventura, Gustavo, 2008. "Taxation, Aggregates and the Household," CEPR Discussion Papers 6702, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Albert Marcet & Francesc Obiols-Homs & Philippe Weil, 2003. "Incomplete Markets, Labor Supply and Capital Accumulation," Sciences Po publications 659, Sciences Po.
  6. David Altig, 2001. "Simulating Fundamental Tax Reform in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 574-595, June.
  7. Josep Pijoan-Mas, 2003. "Precautionary Savings Or Working Longer Hours?," Working Papers wp2003_0311, CEMFI.
  8. William M. Gentry & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1997. "Distributional Implications of Introducing a Broad-Based Consumption Tax," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 11, pages 1-48 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. David Domeij & Jonathan Heathcote, 2004. "On The Distributional Effects Of Reducing Capital Taxes," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(2), pages 523-554, 05.
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