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Preference Heterogeneity and Optimal Capital Income Taxation

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  • Mikhail Golosov
  • Maxim Troshkin
  • Aleh Tsyvinski
  • Matthew Weinzierl

Abstract

We examine a prominent justification for capital income taxation: goods preferred by those with high ability ought to be taxed. In an environment where commodity taxes are allowed to be nonlinear functions of income and consumption, we derive an analytical expression that reveals the forces determining optimal commodity taxation. We then calibrate the model to evidence on the relationship between skills and preferences and extensively examine the quantitative case for taxes on future consumption (saving). In our baseline case of a unit intertemporal elasticity, optimal capital income tax rates are 2% on average and 4.5% on high earners. We find that the intertemporal elasticity of substitution has a substantial effect on optimal capital taxation. If the intertemporal elasticity is one-third, optimal capital income tax rates rise to 15% on average and 23% on high earners; if the intertemporal elasticity is two, optimal rates fall to 0.6% on average and 1.6% on high earners. Nevertheless, in all cases that we consider the welfare gains of using optimal capital taxes are small.

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  • Mikhail Golosov & Maxim Troshkin & Aleh Tsyvinski & Matthew Weinzierl, 2010. "Preference Heterogeneity and Optimal Capital Income Taxation," NBER Working Papers 16619, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16619
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    Cited by:

    1. Guo, Jang-Ting & Krause, Alan, 2015. "Dynamic nonlinear income taxation with quasi-hyperbolic discounting and no commitment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 101-119.
    2. Antoine Bozio & Guy Laroque & Cormac O’Dea, 2017. "Discount rate heterogeneity among older households: a puzzle?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 30(2), pages 647-680, April.
    3. Guo, Jang-Ting & Krause, Alan, 2015. "Dynamic income taxation without commitment: Comparing alternative tax systems," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 319-326.
    4. Weinzierl, Matthew, 2014. "The promise of positive optimal taxation: normative diversity and a role for equal sacrifice," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 128-142.
    5. Peter Diamond & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "The Case for a Progressive Tax: From Basic Research to Policy Recommendations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 165-190, Fall.
    6. Golosov, Mikhail & Troshkin, Maxim & Tsyvinski, Aleh & Weinzierl, Matthew, 2013. "Preference heterogeneity and optimal capital income taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 160-175.
    7. Lockwood, Benjamin B. & Weinzierl, Matthew, 2015. "De Gustibus non est Taxandum: Heterogeneity in preferences and optimal redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 74-80.
    8. Hosseini, Roozbeh & Shourideh, Ali, 2016. "Retirement Financing: An Optimal Reform Approach," MPRA Paper 71613, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 19 Jan 2016.
    9. repec:kap:itaxpf:v:25:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s10797-017-9473-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. repec:eee:hapoch:v1_713 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Anna Grodecka & Karlygash Kuralbayeva, 2014. "The Price vs Quantity Debate: Climate policy and the role of business cycles," OxCarre Working Papers 137, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
    12. Benjamin B. Lockwood & Matthew Weinzierl, 2012. "De Gustibus non est Taxandum: Heterogeneity in Preferences and Optimal Redistribution," Harvard Business School Working Papers 12-063, Harvard Business School, revised Sep 2014.
    13. Alex Rees-Jones & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2018. "Taxing Humans: Pitfalls of the Mechanism Design Approach and Potential Resolutions," Tax Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(1), pages 107-133.
    14. Elin Halvorsen & Thor Olav Thoresen, 2017. "Distributional Effects of the Wealth Tax under a Lifetime-Dynastic Income Concept," CESifo Working Paper Series 6614, CESifo Group Munich.
    15. repec:oup:restud:v:85:y:2018:i:1:p:511-557. is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Renato Gomes & Jean-Marie Lozachmeur & Alessandro Pavan, 2018. "Differential Taxation and Occupational Choice," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 85(1), pages 511-557.
    17. David Weisbach, 2014. "The use of neutralities in international tax policy," Working Papers 1414, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.

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    JEL classification:

    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation

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