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Taxing Top Earners: A Human Capital Perspective

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Abstract

We assess the consequences of substantially increasing the marginal tax rate on U.S. top earners using a human capital model. The top of the model Laffer curve occurs at a 53 percent top tax rate. Tax revenues and the tax rate at the top of the Laffer curve are smaller compared to an otherwise similar model that ignores the possibility of skill change in response to a tax reform. We also show that if one applies the methods used by Diamond and Saez (2011) to provide quantitative guidance for setting the tax rate on top earners to model data then the resulting tax rate exceeds the tax rate at the top of the model Laffer curve.

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  • Mark Huggett & Alejandro Badel, 2014. "Taxing Top Earners: A Human Capital Perspective," Working Papers gueconwpa~14-14-02, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:geo:guwopa:gueconwpa~14-14-02
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    Cited by:

    1. Findeisen, Sebastian & Sachs, Dominik, 2017. "Redistribution and insurance with simple tax instruments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 58-78.
    2. 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).
    3. Badel, Alejandro & Daly, Moira & Huggett, Mark & Nybom, Martin, 2018. "Top Earners: Cross-Country Facts," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, vol. 100(3), pages 237-257.
    4. Golosov, M. & Tsyvinski, A. & Werquin, N., 2016. "Recursive Contracts and Endogenously Incomplete Markets," Handbook of Macroeconomics, Elsevier.
    5. Guner, Nezih & Lopez-Daneri, Martin & Ventura, Gustavo, 2016. "Heterogeneity and Government revenues: Higher taxes at the top?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 69-85.
    6. Cruz Echevarría, 2015. "Income tax progressivity, growth, income inequality and welfare," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 43-72, March.
    7. Jacob Lundberg, 2017. "The Laffer curve for high incomes," LIS Working papers 711, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    8. 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.
    9. Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der Gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung (ed.), 2015. "Zukunftsfähigkeit in den Mittelpunkt. Jahresgutachten 2015/16," Annual Economic Reports / Jahresgutachten, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung, volume 127, number 201516.
    10. Brüggemann, Bettina & Yoo, Jinhyuk, 2015. "Aggregate and distributional effects of increasing taxes on top income earners," SAFE Working Paper Series 113, Research Center SAFE - Sustainable Architecture for Finance in Europe, Goethe University Frankfurt.
    11. Fabian Kindermann & Dirk Krueger, 2014. "High Marginal Tax Rates on the Top 1%? Lessons from a Life Cycle Model with Idiosyncratic Income Risk," NBER Working Papers 20601, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. 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.
    13. Mikhail Golosov & Maxim Troshkin & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2016. "Redistribution and Social Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(2), pages 359-386, February.
    14. Lundberg, Jacob, 2017. "Analyzing tax reforms using the Swedish Labour Income Microsimulation Model," Working Paper Series 2017:12, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    15. 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.
    16. Olga A. Timoshenko & Erick Sager, 2016. "The EMG Distribution and Aggregate Trade Elasticities," Working Papers 2016-15, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    17. Bettina Brueggemann, 2016. "Higher Taxes at the Top: The Role of Entrepreneurs," 2016 Meeting Papers 332, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    18. Adam Blandin, 2015. "Disciplining the Human Capital Model: Learning By Doing, Ben-Porath, and Policy Analysis," 2015 Meeting Papers 1147, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    19. 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.
    20. Hosseini, Roozbeh & Shourideh, Ali, 2016. "Retirement Financing: An Optimal Reform Approach," MPRA Paper 71613, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 19 Jan 2016.
    21. 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.
    22. Sachs, Dominik & Findeisen, Sebastian, 2015. "Insurance and Redistribution with Simple Tax Instruments," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113099, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    23. Kindermann, Fabian & Krueger, Dirk, 2014. "High marginal tax rates on the top 1%?," CFS Working Paper Series 473, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Human Capital; Marginal Tax Rates; Inequality; Laffer Curve;

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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