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When Is a Positive Income Tax Optimal?

  • Fischer Black
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    When will the optimal mix of a constant income tax with a constant consumption tax involve a positive income tax? The assumptions of the model in which this question is asked include (1) identical individuals with coincident lifetimes who work in every period; (2) initial endowments of physical capital; (3) fixed government expenditures; and (4) government borrowing (or lending) that goes to zero when the world ends. In a model like this, we can ignore the transition problem. If we allow the constant tax on income from capital and the constant tax on wage income to be at different rates, we can ask a further question. When will the optimal mix of all three taxes (including the consumption tax) involve a positive tax on either income from capital or wage income?

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w0631.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 0631.

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    Date of creation: Feb 1981
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    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0631
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    1. Prescott, Edward C., 1977. "Should control theory be used for economic stabilization?," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 13-38, January.
    2. Charles E. McLure, Jr., 1980. "Taxes, Saving, and Welfare: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 0504, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Kydland, Finn E. & Prescott, Edward C., 1980. "Dynamic optimal taxation, rational expectations and optimal control," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 79-91, May.
    4. Barro, Robert J., 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Scholarly Articles 3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    5. Alan J. Auerbach & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1983. "National Savings, Economic Welfare, and the Structure of Taxation," NBER Chapters, in: Behavioral Simulation Methods in Tax Policy Analysis, pages 459-498 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Michael J. Boskin, 1978. "Taxation, Saving, and the Rate of Interest," NBER Chapters, in: Research in Taxation, pages 3-27 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Mervyn A. King, 1980. "Savings and Taxation," NBER Working Papers 0428, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Christophe Chamley, 1980. "The Welfare Cost of Capital Income Taxation in a Growing Economy," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 553, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    9. Atkinson, A B & Sandmo, A, 1980. "Welfare Implications of the Taxation of Savings," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(359), pages 529-49, September.
    10. Lawrence H. Summers, 1978. "Tax Policy in a Life Cycle Model," NBER Working Papers 0302, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Martin Feldstein, 1978. "The Welfare Cost of Capital Income Taxation," NBER Chapters, in: Research in Taxation, pages 29-51 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Christophe Chamley, 1980. "Optimal Intertemporal Taxation and the Public Debt," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 554, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    13. Boskin, Michael J, 1978. "Taxation, Saving, and the Rate of Interest," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(2), pages S3-27, April.
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