Indirect Taxation and Redistribution: The Scope of the Atkinson-Stiglitz Theorem
The Atkinson-Stiglitz Theorem states that if labor is weakly separable from goods in household utility functions, differential commodity taxation should not be not part of an optimal redistributive tax system. This Theorem, which is arguable the most policy-relevant result to come out of the optimal income tax literature, has come under considerable scrutiny in the literature. We consider how robust it is with respect to differences in needs or endowments of goods, more than one type of labor supply, differences in preference for leisure, and restrictions on policy instruments.
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