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Optimal Progressive Capital Income Taxes in the Infinite Horizon Model

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  • Emmanuel Saez

Abstract

This paper analyzes optimal progressive capital income taxation in an infinite horizon model where individuals differ only through their initial wealth. We show that, in that context, progressive taxation is a much more powerful and efficient tool to redistribute wealth than linear taxation on which previous literature has focused. We consider progressive capital income tax schedules taking a simple two-bracket form with an exemption bracket at the bottom and a single marginal tax rate above a time varying exemption threshold. Individuals are taxed until their wealth is reduced down to the exemption threshold. When the intertemportal elasticity of substitution is not too large and the top tail of the initial wealth distribution is infinite and thick enough, the optimal exemption threshold converges to a finite limit. As a result, the optimal tax system drives all the large fortunes down a finite level and produces a truncated long-run wealth distribution. A number of numerical simulations illustrate the theoretical result.

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  • Emmanuel Saez, 2002. "Optimal Progressive Capital Income Taxes in the Infinite Horizon Model," NBER Working Papers 9046, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9046 Note: PE
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Mariacristina De Nardi & Marco Cagetti, 2005. "Estate taxes, entrepreneuship, and wealth," 2005 Meeting Papers 144, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Juan Carlos Conesa & Sagiri Kitao & Dirk Krueger, 2009. "Taxing Capital? Not a Bad Idea after All!," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 25-48, March.
    4. Carroll, Daniel R. & Young, Eric R., 2011. "The long run effects of changes in tax progressivity," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 35(9), pages 1451-1473, September.
    5. Helmuth Cremer & Pierre Pestieau, 2011. "The Tax Treatment of Intergenerational Wealth Transfers ," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 57(2), pages 365-401, June.
    6. Ludwig Straub & Iván Werning, 2014. "Positive Long Run Capital Taxation: Chamley-Judd Revisited," NBER Working Papers 20441, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Radim Bohacek & Michal Kejak, 2005. "Optimal Government Policies in Models with Heterogeneous Agents," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp272, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
    8. Helmuth Cremer & ) & Pierre Pestieau, 2003. "Wealth Transfer Taxation: A Survey," Public Economics 0311003, EconWPA.
    9. Dávila, Julio, 2012. "The taxation of capital returns in overlapping generations models," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 441-453.
    10. Marco Cagetti & Mariacristina De Nardi, 2004. "Taxation, entrepreneurship, and wealth," Staff Report 340, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    11. 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.
    12. Martinez, Isabel Z., 2016. "Beggar-Thy-Neighbour Tax Cuts: Mobility after a Local Income and Wealth Tax Reform in Switzerland," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145643, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    13. George R. Zodrow, 2007. "Should Capital Income be Subject to Consumption-Based Taxation?," Working Papers 0715, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
    14. Giorgia Maffini, 2013. "Corporate tax policy under the Labour government, 1997–2010," Working Papers 1302, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
    15. Tchouassi Gérard & Ngwen Ngangué, 2015. "Does Fiscal Illusion Impact Budget Policy? A Panel Data Analysis," International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues, Econjournals, vol. 5(1), pages 240-248.
    16. Sakiru Adebola Solarin & Olabisi Olabode Eric, 2015. "Impact of Economic Globalization on Human Capital: Evidence from Nigerian Economy," International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues, Econjournals, vol. 5(3), pages 786-789.
    17. Nicolas Dromel & Patrick-Antoine Pintus, 2006. "Are Progressive Fiscal Rules Stabilizing?," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00410452, HAL.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus

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