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The Deadweight Loss from `Non-Neutral' Capital Income Taxation

  • Alan J. Auerbach

This paper develops an overlapping generations general equilibrium growth model with an explicit characterization of the role of capital goods in the production process. The model is rich enough in structure to evaluate and measure simultaneously the different distortions associated with capital income taxation (across sectors, across assets and across time) yet simple enough to yield intuitive analytical results as well. The main result is that uniform capital income taxation is almost certainly suboptimal, theoretically, but that empirically, optimal deviations from uniform taxation are inconsequential. We also find that though the gains from a move to uniform taxation are not large in absolute magnitude these gains would be offset only by an overall rise in capital income tax rates of several percentage points. A separate contribution of the paper is the development of a technique for distinguishing intergenerational transfers from efficiency gains in analyzing the effects of policy changes on long-run welfare.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2510.

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Date of creation: Feb 1988
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Publication status: published as Journal of Public Economics, Vol. 40, pp. 1-36, (1989).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2510
Note: PE
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  1. Peter A. Diamond, 1967. "Incidence of an Interest Income Tax," Working papers 5, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Lawrence H. Summers, 1987. "Should Tax Reform Level the Playing Field?," NBER Working Papers 2132, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Diamond, Peter A & Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "Optimal Taxation and Public Production: I--Production Efficiency," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(1), pages 8-27, March.
  4. Willig, Robert D., 1983. "Sector differentiated capital taxation with imperfect competition and inter-industry flows," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 295-316, July.
  5. Charles L. Ballard & Don Fullerton & John B. Shoven & John Whalley, 1985. "A General Equilibrium Model for Tax Policy Evaluation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number ball85-1.
  6. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Lawrence H. Summers, 1979. "Tax Incidence in a Life Cycle Model with Variable Labor Supply," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 93(4), pages 705-718.
  7. Diamond, Peter A & Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "Optimal Taxation and Public Production II: Tax Rules," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(3), pages 261-78, June.
  8. Shoven, John B, 1976. "The Incidence and Efficiency Effects of Taxes on Income from Capital," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(6), pages 1261-83, December.
  9. Feldstein, Martin S, 1978. "The Welfare Cost of Capital Income Taxation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(2), pages S29-51, April.
  10. Alan J. Auerbach, 1979. "The Optimal Taxation of Heterogeneous Capital," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 93(4), pages 589-612.
  11. Charles L. Ballard & Don Fullerton & John B. Shoven & John Whalley, 1985. "Introduction to "A General Equilibrium Model for Tax Policy Evaluation"," NBER Chapters, in: A General Equilibrium Model for Tax Policy Evaluation, pages 1-5 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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