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Optimal Taxation Over the Life Cycle

  • Aspen Gorry

    (University of Chicago)

  • Ezra Oberfield

    (University of Chicago)

We derive the optimal income tax schedule for a life cycle labor supply model in which productivity varies exogenously and deterministically. Individuals choose whether and how much to work at each date. The government must finance a given expenditure and does not have access to lump sum taxation. We solve the model using an implementability constraint as in Lucas and Stokey (1983). The average tax rate determines when an individual will work while the marginal tax rate determines how much she will work. In this framework, the optimal tax schedule is progressive (the average tax rate is increasing) at low levels of income, even in the absence of redistributive concerns. Moreover, in contrast to the optimal taxation literature following Mirrlees (1971), the marginal tax rate at the top is strictly positive.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2009 Meeting Papers with number 536.

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Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:red:sed009:536
Contact details of provider: Postal: Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA
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  1. Guner, Nezih & Kaygusuz, Remzi & Ventura, Gustavo, 2011. "Income Taxation of U.S. Households: Basic Facts," IZA Discussion Papers 5549, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  7. Varian, Hal R., 1980. "Redistributive taxation as social insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 49-68, August.
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  12. Borys Grochulski & Narayana Kocherlakota, 2007. "Nonseparable Preferences and Optimal Social Security Systems," NBER Working Papers 13362, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Guner, Nezih & Kaygusuz, Remzi & Ventura, Gustavo, 2012. "Taxing Women: A Macroeconomic Analysis," CEPR Discussion Papers 8735, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Hansen, G D, 1993. "The Cyclical and Secular Behaviour of the Labour Input: Comparing Efficiency Units and Hours Worked," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(1), pages 71-80, Jan.-Marc.
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  18. Rogerson, Richard & Wallenius, Johanna, 2009. "Micro and macro elasticities in a life cycle model with taxes," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(6), pages 2277-2292, November.
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  21. John Bailey Jones & Eric French, 2010. "The Effects of Health Insurance and Self-Insurance on Retirement Behavior," Discussion Papers 10-10, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
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  25. repec:oup:restud:v:78:y::i:4:p:1490-1518 is not listed on IDEAS
  26. Tuomala, Matti, 1984. "On the optimal income taxation : Some further numerical results," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 351-366, April.
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