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Optimal Marginal Income Tax Reforms: A Microsimulation Analysis

  • John Creedy

    (Department of Economics, The University of Melbourne)

  • Nicolas Hérault

    ()

    (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne)

Extensive research has shown that few robust results regarding the optimal tax structure are available. Moreover, the stylised models used in optimal tax analyses are not appropriate for practical policy advice. This paper proposes a method of examining optimal marginal income tax reforms using behavioural microsimulation models in which the full extent of population heterogeneity is represented along with all the details of highly complex tax and transfer systems. The approach is illustrated using the Australian microsimulation model MITTS. The results show that the marginal welfare changes for the Australian income tax structure are not symmetric with respect to increases and decreases in tax rates, largely because of the asymmetry in tax revenue changes arising from differential labour supply effects in different ranges of the income distribution. In addition, the extent of inequality aversion was found to play a much larger role in the determination of the optimal direction of rate changes than the form of the welfare metric or the specification of adult equivalence scales.

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Paper provided by Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne in its series Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series with number wp2009n23.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iae:iaewps:wp2009n23
Contact details of provider: Postal: Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010 Australia
Phone: +61 3 8344 2100
Fax: +61 3 8344 2111
Web page: http://www.melbourneinstitute.com/
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  1. Bruce Bradbury, 2004. "Targeting social assistance," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 25(3), pages 305-324, September.
  2. Lixin Cai & Guyonne Kalb & Yi-Ping Tseng & Ha Vu, 2008. "The Effect of Financial Incentives on Labour Supply: Evidence for Lone Parents from Microsimulation and Quasi-Experimental Evaluation," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 29(2), pages 285-325, 06.
  3. John Creedy & Guyonne Kalb, 2005. "Measuring Welfare Changes In Labour Supply Models," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 73(6), pages 664-685, December.
  4. repec:eap:articl:v:29:y:1999:i:1:p:1-14 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Kanbur, R. & Keen, M. & Tuomala, M., 1990. "Optimal Non-Linear Income Taxation for the Alleviation of Income Poverty," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 368, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
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  7. John Creedy & Guyonne Kalb & Rosanna Scutella, 2006. "Income distribution in discrete hours behavioural microsimulation models: An illustration," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 57-76, April.
  8. Saez, Emmanuel, 2001. "Using Elasticities to Derive Optimal Income Tax Rates," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(1), pages 205-29, January.
  9. Madden, David, 1996. "Marginal Tax Reform and the Specification of Consumer Demand Systems," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(4), pages 556-67, October.
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  11. Banks, James & Johnson, Paul, 1994. "Equivalence Scale Relativities Revisited," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(425), pages 883-90, July.
  12. Joel Slemrod, 1989. "Optimal Taxation and Optimal Tax Systems," NBER Working Papers 3038, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Creedy, John, 1998. "The Optimal Linear Income Tax Model: Utility or Equivalent Income?," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 45(1), pages 99-110, February.
  14. Jenkins, Stephen P & Cowell, Frank A, 1994. "Parametric Equivalence Scales and Scale Relativities," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(425), pages 891-900, July.
  15. Nigar Hashimzade & Gareth D. Myles, 2007. "Structure of the optimal income tax in the quasi-linear model," International Journal of Economic Theory, The International Society for Economic Theory, vol. 3(1), pages 5-33.
  16. Jean Hindriks & Gareth D. Myles, 2006. "Intermediate Public Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262083442, June.
  17. Myles, Gareth D., 2000. "On the optimal marginal rate of income tax," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 113-119, January.
  18. Chris Heady, 1993. "Optimal taxation as a guide to tax policy: a survey," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 14(1), pages 15-41, February.
  19. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1992. "Workfare versus Welfare Incentive Arguments for Work Requirements in Poverty-Alleviation Programs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 249-61, March.
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