IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/12880.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Taxing Capital? Not a Bad Idea After All!

Author

Listed:
  • Juan Carlos Conesa
  • Sagiri Kitao
  • Dirk Krueger

Abstract

In this paper we quantitatively characterize the optimal capital and labor income tax in an overlapping generations model with idiosyncratic, uninsurable income shocks, where households also differ permanently with respect to their ability to generate income. The welfare criterion we employ is ex-ante (before ability is realized) expected (with respect to uninsurable productivity shocks) utility of a newborn in a stationary equilibrium. Embedded in this welfare criterion is a concern of the policy maker for insurance against idiosyncratic shocks and redistribution among agents of different abilities. Such insurance and redistribution can be achieved by progressive labor income taxes or taxation of capital income, or both. The policy maker has then to trade off these concerns against the standard distortions these taxes generate for the labor supply and capital accumulation decision. We find that in our model the optimal capital income tax rate is significantly positive. The optimal (marginal and average) tax rate on capital is 36%, in conjunction with a progressive labor income tax code that is, to a first approximation, a flat tax of 23% with a deduction that corresponds to about $6,000 (relative to an average income of households in the model of $35,000). We argue that the high optimal capital income tax is mainly driven by the life cycle structure of the model whereas the optimal progressivity of the labor income tax is due to the insurance and redistribution role of the income tax system.

Suggested Citation

  • Juan Carlos Conesa & Sagiri Kitao & Dirk Krueger, 2007. "Taxing Capital? Not a Bad Idea After All!," NBER Working Papers 12880, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12880
    Note: EFG PE
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w12880.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ana Castañeda & Javier Díaz-Giménez & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, "undated". ""Earnings and Wealth Inequality and Income Taxation: Quantifying the Trade-Offs of Switching to a Proportional Income Tax in the U.S.''," CARESS Working Papres 98-14, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
    2. Erosa, Andres & Gervais, Martin, 2002. "Optimal Taxation in Life-Cycle Economies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 105(2), pages 338-369, August.
    3. Chari, V.V. & Kehoe, Patrick J., 1999. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 26, pages 1671-1745, Elsevier.
    4. Tauchen, George & Hussey, Robert, 1991. "Quadrature-Based Methods for Obtaining Approximate Solutions to Nonlinear Asset Pricing Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(2), pages 371-396, March.
    5. David Altig, 2001. "Simulating Fundamental Tax Reform in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 574-595, June.
    6. Mendoza, Enrique G. & Razin, Assaf & Tesar, Linda L., 1994. "Effective tax rates in macroeconomics: Cross-country estimates of tax rates on factor incomes and consumption," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 297-323, December.
    7. Blundell, Richard & Macurdy, Thomas, 1999. "Labor supply: A review of alternative approaches," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 27, pages 1559-1695, Elsevier.
    8. Boháček, Radim & Kejak, Michal, 2018. "Optimal government policies in models with heterogeneous agents," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 834-858.
    9. Storesletten, Kjetil & Telmer, Christopher I. & Yaron, Amir, 2004. "Consumption and risk sharing over the life cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 609-633, April.
    10. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1994. "Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk and Aggregate Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 659-684.
    11. Aiyagari, S Rao, 1995. "Optimal Capital Income Taxation with Incomplete Markets, Borrowing Constraints, and Constant Discounting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1158-1175, December.
    12. Judd, Kenneth L., 1985. "Redistributive taxation in a simple perfect foresight model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 59-83, October.
    13. Mikhail Golosov & Narayana Kocherlakota & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2003. "Optimal Indirect and Capital Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(3), pages 569-587.
    14. David Domeij & Martin Floden, 2006. "The Labor-Supply Elasticity and Borrowing Constraints: Why Estimates are Biased," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(2), pages 242-262, April.
    15. Conesa, Juan Carlos & Krueger, Dirk, 2006. "On the optimal progressivity of the income tax code," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1425-1450, October.
    16. Browning, Martin & Hansen, Lars Peter & Heckman, James J., 1999. "Micro data and general equilibrium models," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 8, pages 543-633, Elsevier.
    17. Andrew Atkeson & V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1999. "Taxing capital income: a bad idea," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, vol. 23(Sum), pages 3-17.
    18. Carlos Garriga, 2019. "Optimal Fiscal Policy in Overlapping Generations Models," Public Finance Review, , vol. 47(1), pages 3-31, January.
    19. Ventura, Gustavo, 1999. "Flat tax reform: A quantitative exploration," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 23(9-10), pages 1425-1458, September.
    20. Saez, Emmanuel, 2013. "Optimal progressive capital income taxes in the infinite horizon model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 61-74.
    21. Alan Auerbach & Laurence Kotlikoff, 2002. "Auerbach-Kotlikoff Model," QM&RBC Codes 90, Quantitative Macroeconomics & Real Business Cycles.
    22. Saez, Emmanuel, 2003. "The effect of marginal tax rates on income: a panel study of 'bracket creep'," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(5-6), pages 1231-1258, May.
    23. Gouveia, Miguel & Strauss, Robert P., 1994. "Effective Federal Individual Tax Functions: An Exploratory Empirical Analysis," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 47(2), pages 317-339, June.
    24. J. A. Mirrlees, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 175-208.
    25. Miles S. Kimball & Matthew D. Shapiro, 2008. "Labor Supply: Are the Income and Substitution Effects Both Large or Both Small?," NBER Working Papers 14208, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    26. David Domeij & Jonathan Heathcote, 2004. "On The Distributional Effects Of Reducing Capital Taxes," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(2), pages 523-554, May.
    27. Heckman, James J, 1993. "What Has Been Learned about Labor Supply in the Past Twenty Years?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 116-121, May.
    28. Susumu Imai & Michael P. Keane, 2004. "Intertemporal Labor Supply and Human Capital Accumulation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(2), pages 601-641, May.
    29. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith & Jr., 1998. "Income and Wealth Heterogeneity in the Macroeconomy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 867-896, October.
    30. Gouveia, Miguel & Strauss, Robert P., 1994. "Effective Federal Individual Tax Functions: An Exploratory Empirical Analysis," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 47(2), pages 317-39, June.
    31. Varian, Hal R., 1980. "Redistributive taxation as social insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 49-68, August.
    32. Shinichi Nishiyama & Kent Smetters, 2005. "Consumption Taxes and Economic Efficiency with Idiosyncratic Wage Shocks," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(5), pages 1088-1115, October.
    33. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-622, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. repec:zbw:cfswop:wp200622 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:zbw:cfswop:wp200621 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Conesa, Juan Carlos & Krueger, Dirk, 2006. "On the optimal progressivity of the income tax code," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1425-1450, October.
    4. repec:zbw:cfswop:wp200510 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Dirk Krueger, 2006. "Public Insurance against Idiosyncratic and Aggregate Risk: The Case of Social Security and Progressive Income Taxation," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 52(4), pages 587-620, December.
    6. Kitao, Sagiri, 2010. "Labor-dependent capital income taxation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(8), pages 959-974, November.
    7. Kitao, Sagiri, 2010. "Short-run fiscal policy: Welfare, redistribution and aggregate effects in the short and long-run," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 34(10), pages 2109-2125, October.
    8. Sagiri Kitao, 2010. "Labor-dependent Capital Income Taxation That Encourages Work and Saving," 2010 Meeting Papers 271, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    9. Boháček, Radim & Kejak, Michal, 2018. "Optimal government policies in models with heterogeneous agents," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 834-858.
    10. Panousi, Vasia, 2009. "Capital Taxation with Entrepreneurial Risk," MPRA Paper 24237, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Nakajima, Makoto, 2020. "Capital income taxation with housing," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 115(C).
    12. Javier Díaz-Giménez & Josep Pijoan-Mas, 2006. "Flat Tax Reforms in the U.S.: A Boon for the Income Poor," Working Papers wp2006_0611, CEMFI.
    13. Sagiri Kitao, 2005. "Income taxation with uninsurable endowment and entrepreneurial investment risks," 2005 Meeting Papers 514, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    14. Nezih Guner & Remzi Kaygusuz & Gustavo Ventura, 2008. "Taxation, aggregates and the household," Working Papers 660, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    15. William Peterman, 2016. "The effect of endogenous human capital accumulation on optimal taxation," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 21, pages 46-71, July.
    16. Cagri S. Kumru & John Piggott, 2017. "Optimal Capital Income Taxation with Means-tested Benefits," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 64(3), pages 227-262, July.
    17. Woodland, A., 2016. "Taxation, Pensions, and Demographic Change," Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, in: Piggott, John & Woodland, Alan (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 0, pages 713-780, Elsevier.
    18. Blandin, Adam & Peterman, William B., 2019. "Taxing capital? The importance of how human capital is accumulated," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 482-508.
    19. Sagiri Kitao, 2008. "Entrepreneurship, taxation and capital investment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(1), pages 44-69, January.
    20. Peterman, William B., 2013. "Determining the motives for a positive optimal tax on capital," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 265-295.
    21. Ozan Bakis & Baris Kaymak & Markus Poschke, 2015. "Transitional Dynamics and the Optimal Progressivity of Income Redistribution," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 18(3), pages 679-693, July.
    22. Fuster, Luisa & Imrohoroglu, Ayse & Imrohoroglu, Selahattin, 2008. "Altruism, incomplete markets, and tax reform," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 65-90, January.
    23. Javier Díaz-Giménez & Josep Pijoan-Mas, 2019. "Investment expensing and progressivity in flat-tax reforms," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 10(3), pages 365-399, November.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12880. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.