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Heterogeneity and Government Revenues: Higher Taxes at the Top?

Author

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  • Guner, Nezih
  • Lopez-Daneri, Martin
  • Ventura, Gustavo

Abstract

We evaluate the effectiveness of a more progressive tax scheme in raising government revenues. We develop a life-cycle economy with heterogeneity and endogenous labor supply. Households face a progressive income tax schedule, mimicking the Federal Income tax, and flat-rate taxes that capture payroll, state and local taxes and the corporate income tax. We parameterize this model to reproduce aggregate and cross-sectional observations for the U.S. economy, including the shares of labor income for top earners. We find that a tilt of the Federal income tax schedule towards high earners leads to small increases in revenues which are maximized at an effective marginal tax rate of about 36.9% for the richest 5% of households -- in contrast to a 21.7% marginal rate in the benchmark economy. Maximized revenue from Federal income taxes is only 8.4% higher than it is in the benchmark economy, while revenues from all sources increase only by about 1.6%. The room for higher revenues from more progressive taxes is even lower when average taxes are higher to start with. We conclude that these policy recommendations are misguided if the aim is to exclusively raise government revenue.

Suggested Citation

  • Guner, Nezih & Lopez-Daneri, Martin & Ventura, Gustavo, 2014. "Heterogeneity and Government Revenues: Higher Taxes at the Top?," CEPR Discussion Papers 10071, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10071
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Pedro Brinca & Miguel H. Ferreira & Francesco Franco & Hans A. Holter & Laurence Malafry, 2017. "Fiscal Consolidation Programs and Income Inequality," CeBER Working Papers 2017-11, Centre for Business and Economics Research (CeBER), University of Coimbra.
    2. Heer, Burkhard & Polito, Vito & Wickens, Michael R., 2017. "Population Aging, Social Security and Fiscal Limits," CEPR Discussion Papers 11978, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Holter, Hans A. & Krueger, Dirk & Stepanchuk, Serhiy, 2014. "How does tax progressivity and household heterogeneity affect Laffer curves?," CFS Working Paper Series 490, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
    4. Nezih Guner & Andrii Parkhomenko & Gustavo Ventura, 2017. "Managers and Productivity Differences," Working Papers wp2017_1710, CEMFI.
    5. Ufuk Akcigit & Salomé Baslandze & Stefanie Stantcheva, 2016. "Taxation and the International Mobility of Inventors," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(10), pages 2930-2981, October.
    6. Mark Huggett & Alejandro Badel, 2013. "Taxing Top Earners: A Human Capital Perspective," 2013 Meeting Papers 625, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Christine Ma & Chung Tran, 2016. "Fiscal Space under Demographic Shift," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2016-642, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.
    8. Nezih Guner & Andrii Parkhomenko & Gustavo Ventura, 2017. "Managers and Productivity Differences," Working Papers wp2018_1710, CEMFI.
    9. Brinca, Pedro & Holter, Hans A. & Krusell, Per & Malafry, Laurence, 2016. "Fiscal multipliers in the 21st century," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 53-69.
    10. Badel, Alejandro & Huggett, Mark, 2017. "The sufficient statistic approach: Predicting the top of the Laffer curve," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 1-12.
    11. Juergen Jung & Chung Tran, 2017. "Optimal Progressive Income Taxation in a Bewley-Grossman Framework," Working Papers 2017-01, Towson University, Department of Economics, revised Apr 2018.
    12. Bettina Brueggemann, 2016. "Higher Taxes at the Top: The Role of Entrepreneurs," 2016 Meeting Papers 332, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    13. Kaymak, Barış & Poschke, Markus, 2016. "The evolution of wealth inequality over half a century: The role of taxes, transfers and technology," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 1-25.
    14. repec:eee:jebusi:v:93:y:2017:i:c:p:1-14 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Kindermann, Fabian & Krueger, Dirk, 2014. "High Marginal Tax Rates on the Top 1%? Lessons from a Life Cycle Model with Idiosyncratic Income Risk," CEPR Discussion Papers 10208, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    16. Nezih Guner & Andrii Parkhomenko & Gustavo Ventura, 2018. "Managers and Productivity Differences," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 29, pages 256-282, July.
    17. repec:eee:dyncon:v:90:y:2018:i:c:p:220-235 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Guvenen, Fatih & Kaplan, Greg & Song, Jae, 2014. "The Glass Ceiling and the Paper Floor: Gender Differences among Top Earners, 1981–2012," Working Papers 716, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    19. Markus Poschke & Baris Kaymak, 2015. "The evolution of wealth inequality over half a century: the role of skills, taxes and institutions," 2015 Meeting Papers 967, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    20. Kindermann, Fabian & Krueger, Dirk, 2014. "High marginal tax rates on the top 1%?," CFS Working Paper Series 473, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
    21. Badel, Alejandro, 2015. "Quantitative Macro Versus Sufficient Statistic Approach: A Laffer Curve Dilemma?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, vol. 97(3), pages 257-267.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    labor supply; progressivity; taxation;

    JEL classification:

    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue

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