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Optimal Dynamic Nonlinear Income Taxes with No Commitment

  • Berliant, Marcus
  • Ledyard, John

We wish to study optimal dynamic nonlinear income taxes. Do real world taxes share some of their features? What policy prescriptions can be made? We study a two period model, where the consumers and government each have separate budget constraints in the two periods, so income cannot be transferred between periods. Labor supply in both periods is chosen by the consumers. The government has memory, so taxes in the first period are a function of first period labor income, whereas taxes in the second period are a function of both first and second period labor income. The government cannot commit to future taxes. Time consistency is thus imposed as a requirement. The main results of the paper show that time consistent incentive compatible two period taxes involve separation of types in the first period and a differentiated lump sum tax in the second period, provided that the discount rate is high or utility is separable between labor and consumption. In the natural extension of the Diamond (1998) model with quasi-linear utility functions to two periods, an equivalence of dynamic and static optimal taxes is demonstrated, and a necessary condition for the top marginal tax rate on first period income is found.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 31749.

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Date of creation: 21 Jun 2011
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:31749
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  1. Brito, D.L. & Hamilton, J.H. & Slutsky, S.H. & Stiglitz, J.E., 1989. "Dynamic Optimal Income Taxation With Government Commitment," Papers 89-8, Florida - College of Business Administration.
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  8. Marek Kapicka, 2006. "Optimal Income Taxation with Human Capital Accumulation and Limited Record Keeping," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(4), pages 612-639, October.
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  13. Daron Acemoglu & Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2007. "Political Economy of Mechanisms," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000886, UCLA Department of Economics.
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  18. J. A. Mirrlees, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 175-208.
  19. Diamond, P., 1994. "Optimal Income Taxation: An Exemple with a U-Shaped Pattern of Optimal Marginal Tax Rates," Working papers 94-14, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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