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On the optimality of joint taxation for noncooperative couples

  • Meier, Volker
  • Rainer, Helmut

We present a noncooperative model of a family’s time allocation between work and a home-produced public good, and examine whether the income tax should apply to couples or individuals. While tax-induced labor supply distortions lead to overprovision of the public good, spouses’ failure to internalize the collective effect of their choices points towards underprovision. A large parameter range exists for which a move from individual to joint taxation improves the welfare of both spouses. The source of Pareto-improvement consists in moving the level of the public good closer to its first-best, while an adjustment of intra-family transfers compensates the secondary earner for the increased tax load.

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Paper provided by University of Munich, Department of Economics in its series Munich Reprints in Economics with number 19177.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Publication status: Published in Labour Economics 4 19(2012): pp. 633-641
Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenar:19177
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  1. Konrad, Kai A & Lommerud, Kjell Erik, 1995. " Family Policy with Non-cooperative Families," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(4), pages 581-601, December.
  2. Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Claus Thustrup Kreiner & Emmanuel Saez, 2009. "The Optimal Income Taxation of Couples," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(2), pages 537-560, 03.
  3. Apps, Patricia & Rees, Ray, 2009. "Relational Contracts, Taxation and the Household," IZA Discussion Papers 4189, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Peter Gottfried & Wolfram Richter, 1999. "The Tax Unit and Household Production: Comment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(2), pages 404-409, April.
  5. Apps,Patricia & Rees,Ray, 2009. "Public Economics and the Household," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521887878.
  6. Imran Rasul, 2006. "The Economics of Child Custody," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 73(289), pages 1-25, 02.
  7. Boskin, Michael J. & Sheshinski, Eytan, 1983. "Optimal tax treatment of the family: Married couples," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 281-297, April.
  8. Lundberg, S. & Pollak, R.A., 1991. "Separate Spheres Bargaining and the Marriage Market," Working Papers 91-08, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  9. Zhiqi Chen & Frances Woolley, 1999. "A Cournot-Nash Model of Family Decision Making," Carleton Economic Papers 99-13, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2001.
  10. Meier, Volker & Wrede, Matthias, 2013. "Reducing the excess burden of subsidizing the stork: Joint taxation, individual taxation, and family tax splitting," Munich Reprints in Economics 19213, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  11. Patricia Apps & Ray Rees, 2007. "The Taxation of Couples," Discussion Papers 07/21, Department of Economics, University of York.
  12. Dan Anderberg, 2007. "Inefficient households and the mix of government spending," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 131(1), pages 127-140, April.
  13. Helmut Rainer, 2005. "Should We Write Prenuptial Contracts?," Discussion Paper Series, Department of Economics 200514, Department of Economics, University of St. Andrews.
  14. John Piggott & John Whalley, 1994. "The Tax Unit and Household Production," NBER Working Papers 4820, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Alesina, Alberto F & Ichino, Andrea & Karabarbounis, Loukas, 2007. "Gender Based Taxation and the Division of Family Chores," CEPR Discussion Papers 6591, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Pollak, Robert A, 1985. "A Transaction Cost Approach to Families and Households," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 23(2), pages 581-608, June.
  17. Barham, Vicky & Devlin, Rose Anne & Yang, Jie, 2009. "A theory of rational marriage and divorce," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 93-106, January.
  18. Apps, Patricia & Rees, Ray, 1999. "On the taxation of trade within and between households," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 241-263, August.
  19. Patricia F. Apps & Ray Rees, 1999. "Individual versus Joint Taxation in Models with Household Production," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(2), pages 393-403, April.
  20. Jonathan P Thomas & Tim Worrall, 2010. "Dynamic Relational Contracts with Credit Constraints," The School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 1009, Economics, The University of Manchester.
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