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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. Emmanuel Saez & Joel Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2012. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(1), pages 3-50, March.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Brito, Dagobert L. & Hamilton, Jonathan H. & Slutsky, Steven M. & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1995. "Randomization in optimal income tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 189-223, February.
  5. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1981. "Utilitarianism and Horizontal Equity: The Case for Random Taxation," NBER Working Papers 0694, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Scotchmer, Suzanne, 1989. "Who profits from taxpayer confusion?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 49-55.
  10. Stern, Nicholas, 1982. "Optimum taxation with errors in administration," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 181-211, March.
  11. Suzanne Scotchmer & Joel Slemrod, 1988. "Randomness in Tax Enforcement," NBER Working Papers 2512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Kopczuk, Wojciech, 2001. "Redistribution when avoidance behavior is heterogeneous," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 51-71, July.
  13. Louis Kaplow, 1994. "Accuracy, Complexity, and the Income Tax," NBER Working Papers 4631, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. 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.
  15. Martin Hellwig, 2005. "The Undesirability of Randomized Income Taxation under Decreasing Risk Aversion," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2005_27, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
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