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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. 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).
  2. Gevers, Louis & Michel, Philippe, 1998. "Economic Dynasties with Intermissions," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 251-271, November.
  3. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-77, June.
  4. Arrondel, L. & Masson, A. & Pestieau, P., . "Bequests and inheritance: empirical issues and France-U.S. comparison," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1274, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  5. Boadway, Robin & Marchand, Maurice & Pestieau, Pierre, 1994. "Towards a theory of the direct-indirect tax mix," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 71-88, September.
  6. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-22, May.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 175-208, April.
  11. 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.
  12. Pestieau, P. M., 1974. "Optimal taxation and discount rate for public investment in a growth setting," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 217-235, August.
  13. CREMER, Helmuth & PESTIEAU , Pierre & ROCHET, Jean-Charles, . "Direct versus indirect taxation: the design of the tax structure revisited," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1528, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  14. 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.
  15. Ulrike Ludden, 2000. "Optimal Capital Income Taxation and Redistribution," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0658, Econometric Society.
  16. 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.
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