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Why Are Capital Income Taxes So High?


  • Floden, Martin

    () (Dept. of Economic Statistics, Stockholm School of Economics)


The Ramsey optimal taxation theory implies that the tax rate on capital income should be zero in the long run. This result holds even if the social planner only cares about workers that do not hold assets, or if the planner only cares about any other group in the economy. This paper demonstrates that although all households agree that capital income taxation should be eliminated in the long run, they do not agree on how to eliminate these taxes. Wealthy households would prefer a reform that is funded mostly by higher taxes on labor income while households with little wealth would prefer a reform that is funded mostly by high taxes on initial wealth. Pareto improving reforms typically exist, but the welfare gains of such reforms are modest.

Suggested Citation

  • Floden, Martin, 2006. "Why Are Capital Income Taxes So High?," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 623, Stockholm School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:hastef:0623

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Albert Marcet & Katharina Greulich, 2008. "Pareto-Improving Optimal Capital and Labor Taxes," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 733.08, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
    2. Mathieu-Bolh, Nathalie, 2010. "Welfare improving distributionally neutral tax reforms," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 1253-1268, September.
    3. Gourio, François, 2009. "Is there a majority to support a capital tax cut?," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 1278-1295, June.

    More about this item


    optimal taxation; inequality; redistribution;

    JEL classification:

    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation

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