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Optimal Piecewise Linear Income Taxation

  • Apps, Patricia

    ()

    (University of Sydney)

  • Long, Ngo Van

    ()

    (McGill University)

  • Rees, Ray

    ()

    (University of Munich)

Given its significance in practice, piecewise linear taxation has received relatively little attention in the literature. This paper offers a simple and transparent analysis of its main characteristics. We fully characterize optimal tax parameters for the cases in which budget sets are convex and nonconvex respectively. A numerical analysis of a discrete version of the model shows the circumstances under which each of these cases will hold as a global optimum. We find that, given plausible parameter values and wage distributions, the globally optimal tax system is convex, and marginal rate progressivity increases with rising inequality.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6007.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Public Economic Theory, 2014, 16 (4), 523-545
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6007
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  1. Joel Slemrod & Shlomo Yitzhaki & Joram Mayshar, 1991. "The Optimal Two-Bracket Linear Income Tax," NBER Working Papers 3847, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Peter A. Diamond & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "The Case for a Progressive Tax: From Basic Research to Policy Recommendations," CESifo Working Paper Series 3548, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Anthony B. Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2009. "Top Incomes in the Long Run of History," NBER Working Papers 15408, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Sheshinski, Eytan, 1972. "The Optimal Linear Income-Tax," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(3), pages 297-302, July.
  5. Sheshinski, Eytan, 1989. "Note on the shape of the optimum income tax schedule," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 201-215, November.
  6. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521887878 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Patricia Apps & Ray Rees, 2010. "Australian Family Tax Reform and the Targeting Fallacy," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 43(2), pages 153-175.
  8. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521716284 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. 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.
  10. Saez, Emmanuel, 2001. "Using Elasticities to Derive Optimal Income Tax Rates," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(1), pages 205-29, January.
  11. Dahlby, Bev, 1998. "Progressive taxation and the social marginal cost of public funds," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 105-122, January.
  12. Bev Dahlby, 2008. "The Marginal Cost of Public Funds: Theory and Applications," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262042509, June.
  13. Robin Boadway, 1998. "The Mirrlees Approach to the Theory of Economic Policy," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 67-81, February.
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