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Negative marginal tax rates and heterogeneity

  • Philippe Choné

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

  • Guy Laroque

    ()

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

Heterogeneity is likely to be an important determinant of the shape of optimal tax schemes. This article addresses the issue in a model à la Mirrlees with a continuum of agents. The agents differ in their productivities and opportunity costs of work, but their labor supplies depend only on a unidimensional combination of their two characteristics. Conditions are given under which the standard result that marginal tax rates are everywhere non-negative holds. This is in particular the case when work opportunity costs are distributed independently of productivities. But one can also get negative marginal tax rates: economies where negative tax rates are optimal at the bottom of the income distribution are studied, and a numerical illustration is given, based on UK data.

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Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W09/12.

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Date of creation: 05 May 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:09/12
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  1. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1981. "Self-Selection and Pareto Efficient Taxation," NBER Working Papers 0632, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Rochet, Jean-Charles, 1987. "A necessary and sufficient condition for rationalizability in a quasi-linear context," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 191-200, April.
  3. Diamond, P., 1980. "Income taxation with fixed hours of work," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 101-110, February.
  4. Emmanuel Saez, 2002. "Optimal Income Transfer Programs: Intensive versus Extensive Labor Supply Responses," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 1039-1073.
  5. Seade, J. K., 1977. "On the shape of optimal tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 203-235, April.
  6. Katherine Cuff, 2000. "Optimality of workfare with heterogeneous preferences," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 33(1), pages 149-174, February.
  7. Robin Boadway & Maurice Marchand & Pierre Pestieau & María del Mar Racionero, 2002. "Optimal Redistribution with Heterogeneous Preferences for Leisure," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 4(4), pages 475-498, October.
  8. Hellwig, Martin F., 2007. "A contribution to the theory of optimal utilitarian income taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(7-8), pages 1449-1477, August.
  9. Beaudry, Paul & Blackorby, Charles, 2004. "Taxes And Employment Subsidies In Optimal Redistribution Programs," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 708, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  10. Brett, Craig & Weymark, John A., 2003. "Financing education using optimal redistributive taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(11), pages 2549-2569, October.
  11. Mirrlees, J. A., 1976. "Optimal tax theory : A synthesis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 327-358, November.
  12. Aaron S. Edlin & Chris Shannon, 1998. "Strict Single Crossing and the Strict Spence-Mirrlees Condition: A Comment on Monotone Comparative Statics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(6), pages 1417-1426, November.
  13. J. A. Mirrlees, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 175-208.
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