IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/9503.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Taxation of Interest Income

Author

Listed:
  • Roger H. Gordon

Abstract

Why is interest income taxed more heavily than other forms of capital income? This differential tax treatment has generated substantial tax arbitrage, resulting in lower tax revenue, efficiency costs, and apparently net gains to rich borrowers and net losses to poor lenders, together suggesting that this tax treatment makes no sense on welfare grounds. In examining this argument more formally, this paper reveals two omitted considerations that can help explain the existing tax treatment. First, the forecasted increase in the market interest rate results in a redistribution from rich borrowers to poor lenders. Yet this redistribution comes at no marginal efficiency cost, starting from a situation with no distortions to portfolio choice, so at the margin dominates further redistribution through the income tax. In addition, information about an individual's portfolio choice reveals information about her earnings ability, even controlling for observed labor income, if those who are more able tend to be less risk averse. By making use of this extra information about earnings ability, the tax system can be better tailored to redistribute from able to less able, for any given efficiency cost.

Suggested Citation

  • Roger H. Gordon, 2003. "Taxation of Interest Income," NBER Working Papers 9503, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9503
    Note: PE
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w9503.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Naito, Hisahiro, 1999. "Re-examination of uniform commodity taxes under a non-linear income tax system and its implication for production efficiency," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 165-188, February.
    2. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1976. "The design of tax structure: Direct versus indirect taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 55-75.
    3. Roger H. Gordon, 1985. "Taxation of Corporate Capital Income: Tax Revenues Versus Tax Distortions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 100(1), pages 1-27.
    4. Roger H. Gordon & Joel Slemrod, 1988. "Do We Collect Any Revenue from Taxing Capital Income?," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy: Volume 2, pages 89-130, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "The desirability of commodity taxation under non-linear income taxation and heterogeneous tastes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 217-230, February.
    6. J. A. Mirrlees, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 38(2), pages 175-208.
    7. Gordon, Roger & Kalambokidis, Laura & Slemrod, Joel, 2004. "Do we now collect any revenue from taxing capital income?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(5), pages 981-1009, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Gordon, Roger H. & Kopczuk, Wojciech, 2014. "The choice of the personal income tax base," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 97-110.
    2. David Hargreaves, 2008. "The tax system and housing demand in New Zealand," Reserve Bank of New Zealand Discussion Paper Series DP2008/06, Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
    3. Fossen, Frank M. & Simmler, Martin, 2016. "Personal Taxation of Capital Income and the Financial Leverage of Firms," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, vol. 23(1), pages 48-81.
    4. Peter Diamond & Johannes Spinnewijn, 2011. "Capital Income Taxes with Heterogeneous Discount Rates," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 52-76, November.
    5. Stefania Albanesi, 2006. "optimal taxation of entrepreneurial capital with private information," 2006 Meeting Papers 310, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. Gordon, Roger H, 2017. "How Should Income from Multinationals Be Taxed?," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt51c8q7nq, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.

    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. Spencer Bastani & Daniel Waldenström, 2020. "How Should Capital Be Taxed?," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(4), pages 812-846, September.
    2. George R. Zodrow, 2019. "Should Capital Income Be Subject to Consumption-Based Taxation?," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: George R Zodrow (ed.), TAXATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE Selected Essays of George R. Zodrow, chapter 5, pages 131-168, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    3. Xavier Ruiz del Portal, 2020. "Two reasons for not using commodity taxation in the presence of an optimal income tax," Hacienda Pública Española / Review of Public Economics, IEF, vol. 232(1), pages 9-28, March.
    4. Eddy Zanoutene, 2023. "Scale‐dependent and risky returns to savings: Consequences for optimal capital taxation," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 25(3), pages 532-569, June.
    5. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2012. "Optimal Labor Income Taxation," NBER Working Papers 18521, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Naito, Hisahiro, 2004. "Endogenous human capital accumulation, comparative advantage and direct vs. indirect redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(12), pages 2685-2710, December.
    7. Fleurbaey, Marc, 2006. "Is commodity taxation unfair?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(10-11), pages 1765-1787, November.
    8. Naito Hisahiro, 2007. "Atkinson-Stiglitz Theorem with Endogenous Human Capital Accumulation," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-19, September.
    9. Odd E. Nygård & John T. Revesz, 2015. "Optimal indirect taxation and the uniformity debate: A review of theoretical results and empirical contributions," Discussion Papers 809, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    10. Robin Boadway & Katherine Cuff, 2023. "The Case for Uniform Commodity Taxation: A Tax Reform Approach," Hacienda Pública Española / Review of Public Economics, IEF, vol. 244(1), pages 79-109, March.
    11. Spencer Bastani & Firouz Gahvari & Luca Micheletto, 2023. "Nonlinear taxation of income and education in the presence of income‐misreporting," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 25(4), pages 679-726, August.
    12. Carlos E. da Costa, 2009. "Yet Another Reason to Tax Goods," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 12(2), pages 363-376, April.
    13. Spencer Bastani & Sebastian Koehne, 2022. "How Should Consumption Be Taxed?," CESifo Working Paper Series 10038, CESifo.
    14. Louis Kaplow, 2020. "A Unified Perspective on Efficiency, Redistribution, and Public Policy," NBER Working Papers 26683, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Vidar Christiansen & Matti Tuomala, 2008. "On taxing capital income with income shifting," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 15(4), pages 527-545, August.
    16. Alan Krause, 2014. "Optimal Savings Taxation when Individuals Have Different CRRA Utility Functions," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 113-114, pages 207-223.
    17. Louis Kaplow, 2011. "An Optimal Tax System," NBER Working Papers 17214, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. 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.
    19. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 2018. "Pareto efficient taxation and expenditures: Pre- and re-distribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 101-119.
    20. Hisahiro Naito, 2003. "Atkinson and Stiglitz Theorem with Endogenous Human Capital Accumulation," ISER Discussion Paper 0596, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation

    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:9503. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    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: the person in charge (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. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.