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Optimal observability in a linear income tax

  • Joel Slemrod

    (University of Michigan)

  • Christian Traxler

    ()

    (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods)

We study the optimal observability of the tax base within the standard linear income tax problem, where observability is determined by the government’s investment into the accurate measurement of the tax base. We characterize the optimal level of observability and derive a new expression for the optimal progressivity, which – in addition to the standard equity efficiency trade-off – accounts for the limited accuracy of an income tax system.

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Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods in its series Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods with number 2010_04.

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Date of creation: Jan 2010
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Handle: RePEc:mpg:wpaper:2010_04
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  1. Hellwig, Martin F., 2007. "The undesirability of randomized income taxation under decreasing risk aversion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(3-4), pages 791-816, April.
  2. Emmanuel Saez & Joel B. Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2009. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review," NBER Working Papers 15012, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Scotchmer, Suzanne, 1989. "Who profits from taxpayer confusion?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 49-55.
  4. Stern, Nicholas, 1982. "Optimum taxation with errors in administration," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 181-211, March.
  5. Kaplow, Louis, 1998. "Accuracy, Complexity, and the Income Tax," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(1), pages 61-83, April.
  6. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1982. "Utilitarianism and horizontal equity : The case for random taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 1-33, June.
  7. Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Wojciech Kopczuk, 2011. "Transfer Program Complexity and the Take-Up of Social Benefits," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 54-90, February.
  8. Reinganum, Jennifer F & Wilde, Louis L, 1988. "A Note on Enforcement Uncertainty and Taxpayer Compliance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(4), pages 793-98, November.
  9. Brito, D.L. & Hamilton, J.H. & Slutsky, S.M. & Stiglitz, J.E., 1989. "Randomization In Optimal Income Tax Schedules," Papers 89-6, Florida - College of Business Administration.
  10. Dixit, Avinash K & Sandmo, Angar, 1977. " Some Simplified Formulae for Optimal Income Taxation," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 79(4), pages 417-23.
  11. Pestieau, Pierre & Possen, Uri M. & Slutsky, Steven M., 1998. "The value of explicit randomization in the tax code," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 87-103, January.
  12. Weiss, Laurence, 1976. "The Desirability of Cheating Incentives and Randomness in the Optimal Income Tax," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(6), pages 1343-52, December.
  13. Scotchmer, Suzanne & Slemrod, Joel, 1989. "Randomness in tax enforcement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 17-32, February.
  14. 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.
  15. Kopczuk, Wojciech, 2001. "Redistribution when avoidance behavior is heterogeneous," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 51-71, July.
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