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An extensive look at taxes: how does endogenous retirement affect optimal taxation?

  • William B. Peterman

This paper considers the impact on optimal tax policy of including endogenously determined retirement in a life cycle model. Allowing individuals to determine when they retire causes the optimal tax on capital to increase by 75% because of two implicit changes in the aggregate labor supply elasticity. First, including endogenous retirement causes an increase in the overall aggregate labor supply elasticity since agents can change their labor supply on both the intensive and extensive margins. In response, the government limits the distortions from the tax policy by lowering the tax on labor and increases the tax on capital. Second, given that the choice to retire is more relevant for older individuals, endogenous retirement disproportionately increases older agent's elasticity compared to younger individuals. Ideally, the government would decrease the relative labor income tax on individuals when they are older and supply labor more elastically. However, in the absence of age-dependent taxes, the government mimics such a tax policy by further increasing the tax on capital. I find that the welfare lost from not accounting for endogenous retirement when solving for the optimal tax policy is equivalent to approximately one percent of lifetime consumption.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2012-28.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2012-28
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  1. Raj Chetty & Adam Guren & Dayanand S. Manoli & Andrea Weber, 2011. "Does Indivisible Labor Explain the Difference Between Micro and Macro Elasticities? A Meta-Analysis of Extensive Margin Elasticities," NBER Working Papers 16729, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Andres Erosa & Luisa Fuster & Gueorgui Kambourov, 2011. "Towards a Micro-Founded Theory of Aggregate Labor Supply," Working Papers tecipa-443, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  3. Juan Carlos Conesa & Sagiri Kitao & Dirk Krueger, 2007. "Taxing Capital? Not a Bad Idea After All!," NBER Working Papers 12880, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Andrés Erosa & Martin Gervais, 1998. "Optimal Taxation in Life-Cycle Economies," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 9812, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  5. Bas Jacobs & A. Bovenberg, 2010. "Human capital and optimal positive taxation of capital income," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 17(5), pages 451-478, October.
  6. Conesa, Juan Carlos & Krueger, Dirk, 2005. "On the Optimal Progressivity of the Income Tax Code," CEPR Discussion Papers 5040, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Riccardo Fiorito & Giulio Zanella, . "Labor Supply Elasticities: Can Micro be Misleading for Macro?," Working Papers 4, Department of the Treasury, Ministry of the Economy and of Finance.
  8. Rogerson, Richard & Wallenius, Johanna, 2009. "Micro and macro elasticities in a life cycle model with taxes," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(6), pages 2277-2292, November.
  9. Makoto Nakajima, 2010. "Optimal capital income taxation with housing," Working Papers 10-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  10. Peterman, William B., 2013. "Determining the motives for a positive optimal tax on capital," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 265-295.
  11. Carlos Garriga, 2001. "Optimal Fiscal Policy in Overlapping Generations Models," Working Papers in Economics 66, Universitat de Barcelona. Espai de Recerca en Economia.
  12. Susumu Imai & Michael P. Keane, 2004. "Intertemporal Labor Supply and Human Capital Accumulation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(2), pages 601-641, 05.
  13. David Domeij & Martin Floden, 2006. "The Labor-Supply Elasticity and Borrowing Constraints: Why Estimates are Biased," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(2), pages 242-262, April.
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