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Optimal Capital Income Taxation

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  • Andrew B. Abel

Abstract

In an economy with identical infinitely-lived households that obtain utility from leisure as well as consumption, Chamley (1986) and Judd (1985) have shown that the optimal tax system to pay for an exogenous stream of government purchases involves a zero tax rate on capital in the long run, with tax revenue collected by a distortionary tax on labor income. Extending the results of Hall and Jorgenson (1971) to general equilibrium, I show that if purchasers of capital are permitted to deduct capital expenditures from taxable capital income, then a constant tax rate on capital income is non-distortionary. Importantly, even though this specification of the capital income tax imposes a zero effective tax rate on capital, the capital income tax can collect substantial revenue. Provided that government purchases do not exceed gross capital income less gross investment, the optimal tax system will consist of a positive tax rate on capital income and a zero tax rate on labor income--just the opposite of the results of Chamley and Judd.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew B. Abel, 2007. "Optimal Capital Income Taxation," NBER Working Papers 13354, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13354
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Andrew B. Abel & N. Gregory Mankiw & Lawrence H. Summers & Richard J. Zeckhauser, 1989. "Assessing Dynamic Efficiency: Theory and Evidence," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(1), pages 1-19.
    2. Paul A. Samuelson, 1964. "Tax Deductibility of Economic Depreciation to Insure Invariant Valuations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 72, pages 604-604.
    3. Judd, Kenneth L., 1985. "Redistributive taxation in a simple perfect foresight model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 59-83, October.
    4. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1990. "Supply-Side Economics: An Analytical Review," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(2), pages 293-316, April.
    5. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-622, May.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Francesco Menoncin & Paolo M. Panteghini, 2013. "The Johansson-Samuelson Theorem in General Equilibrium: A Rebuttal," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 69(1), pages 57-71, March.
    2. Backus, David & Henriksen, Espen & Storesletten, Kjetil, 2008. "Taxes and the global allocation of capital," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 48-61, January.
    3. Alberto Petrucci, 2007. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in Models with Endogenous Fertility," Development Working Papers 228, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano.
    4. Katharina Finke & Jost H. Heckemeyer & Timo Reister & Christoph Spengel, 2013. "Impact of Tax-Rate Cut cum Base-Broadening Reforms on Heterogeneous Firms: Learning from the German Tax Reform of 2008," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 69(1), pages 72-114, March.
    5. Matteo Bassi, 2008. "I Will Survive: Capital Taxation, Voter Turnout and Time Inconsistency," CSEF Working Papers 206, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    6. Florin O. Bilbiie & Fabio Ghironi & Marc J. Melitz, 2008. "Monopoly Power and Endogenous Product Variety: Distortions and Remedies," NBER Working Papers 14383, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Michael Sattinger, 2010. "Income Tax Incidence with Positive Population Growth," Discussion Papers 10-04, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
    8. Jacques Kibambe Ngoie & Niek Schoeman, 2012. "Efficiency of Optimal Taxation in a Dynamic Stochastic Environment: Case of South Africa," Working Papers 201218, University of Pretoria, Department of Economics.
    9. Petrucci, Alberto, 2015. "Optimal income taxation in models with endogenous fertility," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 216-225.
    10. Conesa, Juan C. & Domínguez, Begoña, 2013. "Intangible investment and Ramsey capital taxation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(8), pages 983-995.

    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

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