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The Personal Income Tax Structure: Theory and Policy

  • John Creedy

There is now a large and complex literature on optimal income taxation, within the context of second-best welfare economics. This paper considers the potential role of this analysis in the practical design of direct tax and transfer structures. It is stressed that few results are robust, even in simple models, in view of the important role played by alternative social welfare functions, the nature of the distribution of abilities and the preferences of individuals. In view of these negative results, it is suggested that a range of empirical tax analyses, capturing particular issues, can provide helpful guidance for policy analysts. Numerical illustrations are provided, paying attention to the role of a ‘top’ marginal tax rate applied to higher-income groups. In particular, behavioural microsimulation models can be used to examine marginal direct tax reform. Such models have the advantages of capturing the full extent of population heterogeneity and the complexity of the tax structure.

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File URL: http://fbe.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/801126/1063.pdf
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Paper provided by The University of Melbourne in its series Department of Economics - Working Papers Series with number 1063.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mlb:wpaper:1063
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, The University of Melbourne, 4th Floor, FBE Building, Level 4, 111 Barry Street. Victoria, 3010, Australia
Phone: +61 3 8344 5355
Fax: +61 3 8344 6899
Web page: http://www.economics.unimelb.edu.au
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  1. Klara Sabirianova Peter & Steve Buttrick & Denvil Duncan, 2007. "Global Reform of Personal Income Taxation, 1981-2005: Evidence from 189 Countries," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0721, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  2. Kanbur, R. & Keen, M. & Tuomala, M., 1990. "Optimal Non-Linear Income Taxation for the Alleviation of Income Poverty," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 368, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  3. Saez, Emmanuel, 2001. "Using Elasticities to Derive Optimal Income Tax Rates," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(1), pages 205-29, January.
  4. 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.
  5. Diamond, P., 1994. "Optimal Income Taxation: An Exemple with a U-Shaped Pattern of Optimal Marginal Tax Rates," Working papers 94-14, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  6. Madden, David, 1996. "Marginal Tax Reform and the Specification of Consumer Demand Systems," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(4), pages 556-67, October.
  7. Hindriks, Jean & Myles, Gareth D., 2013. "Intermediate Public Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262018691, June.
  8. Joel Slemrod, 1989. "Optimal Taxation and Optimal Tax Systems," NBER Working Papers 3038, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Bruce Bradbury, 2004. "Targeting social assistance," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 25(3), pages 305-324, September.
  10. Myles, Gareth D., 2000. "On the optimal marginal rate of income tax," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 113-119, January.
  11. Creedy, John, 2001. "Tax Modelling," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 77(237), pages 189-202, June.
  12. repec:eap:articl:v:29:y:1999:i:1:p:1-14 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Chris Heady, 1993. "Optimal taxation as a guide to tax policy: a survey," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 14(1), pages 15-41, February.
  14. John Creedy & Guyonne Kalb, 2005. "Measuring Welfare Changes In Labour Supply Models," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 73(6), pages 664-685, December.
  15. Creedy, John, 1998. "Means-Tested versus Universal Transfers: Alternative Models and Value Judgements," The Manchester School of Economic & Social Studies, University of Manchester, vol. 66(1), pages 100-117, January.
  16. Creedy, John, 1998. "The Optimal Linear Income Tax Model: Utility or Equivalent Income?," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 45(1), pages 99-110, February.
  17. Tuomala, Matti, 1985. " Simplified Formulae for Optimal Linear Income Taxation," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 87(4), pages 668-72.
  18. John Creedy, 2001. "Indirect tax reform and the role of exemptions," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 22(4), pages 457-486., December.
  19. Nigar Hashimzade & Gareth D. Myles, 2007. "Structure of the optimal income tax in the quasi-linear model," International Journal of Economic Theory, The International Society for Economic Theory, vol. 3(1), pages 5-33.
  20. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1992. "Workfare versus Welfare Incentive Arguments for Work Requirements in Poverty-Alleviation Programs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 249-61, March.
  21. John Creedy, 2000. "Labour supply, welfare and the earnings distribution," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 4(3), pages 134-151, September.
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