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Capital Income Taxation when Inherited wealth is not Observable

  • Cremer, Helmuth
  • Pestieau, Pierre
  • Rochet, Jean-Charles

This paper extends the Atkinson-Stiglitz model of direct and indirect taxation to a dynamic setting with two unobservable characteristics: productive ability and inherited wealth. Bequests are motivated by the "joy of giving". A child's inheritance is a random variable with a probability distribution that depends on his parent's investment in a "bequest technology". Public borrowing is assumed and implies the modified golden rule. We study the optimal tax policy when two instruments are available: a non-linear (wage) income tax and a proportional tax on capital income. We show that the second instrument ought, in general, to be used but that the tax rate is not necessarily positive. However, a positive tax rate is more likely when there is a positive correlation between inherited wealth and innate ability.

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Paper provided by Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse in its series IDEI Working Papers with number 109.

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Date of creation: 1999
Date of revision: 2001
Publication status: Published in Journal of Public Economics, vol.�87, n°11, octobre 2003, p.�2475-2490.
Handle: RePEc:ide:wpaper:1159
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  1. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1976. "The design of tax structure: Direct versus indirect taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 55-75.
  2. BOADWAY, Robin & MARCHAND, Maurice & PESTIEAU, Pierre, 1997. "Redistribution with unobservable bequests: a case for taxing capital income," CORE Discussion Papers 1997070, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  3. Ulrike Ludden, 2000. "Optimal Capital Income Taxation and Redistribution," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0658, Econometric Society.
  4. Atkinson, A B & Sandmo, A, 1980. "Welfare Implications of the Taxation of Savings," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(359), pages 529-49, September.
  5. Glomm, Gerhard & Ravikumar, B, 1992. "Public versus Private Investment in Human Capital Endogenous Growth and Income Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 818-34, August.
  6. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 2001. "Direct versus Indirect Taxation: The Design of the Tax Structure Revisted," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(3), pages 781-99, August.
  7. Robin Boadway & Maurice Marchand & Pierre Pestieau, 1992. "Towards a Theory of the Direct-Indirect Tax Mix," Working Papers 853, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  8. Ordover, Janusz A. & Phelps, Edmund S., 1979. "On the Concept of Optimal Taxation in an Overlapping-Generations Model of Efficient Growth," Working Papers 79-09, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  9. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-22, May.
  10. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz, 1995. "Uncertainty, Optimal Taxation and the Direct versus Indirect Tax Controversy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(432), pages 1165-79, September.
  11. GEVERS, Louis & MICHEL, Philippe, 1998. "Economic dynasties with intermissions," CORE Discussion Papers 1998012, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  12. Naito, Hisahiro, 1999. "Re-examination of uniform commodity taxes under a non-linear income tax system and its implication for production efficiency," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 165-188, February.
  13. Pirttila, Jukka & Tuomala, Matti, 2001. "On optimal non-linear taxation and public good provision in an overlapping generations economy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 485-501, March.
  14. Ordover, J. A. & Phelps, E. S., 1979. "The concept of optimal taxation in the overlapping-generations model of capital and wealth," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 1-26, August.
  15. Jukka Pirttilä & Matti Tuomala, 1999. "On Optimal Non-Linear Taxation and Public Good Provision in Overlapping Generations Economy," Discussion Papers 200, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT).
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