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Higher Taxes at the Top: The Role of Entrepreneurs

Author

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  • Bettina Brueggemann

    (Goethe University Frankfurt)

Abstract

This paper contributes to the recent and growing literature on optimal top marginal income tax rates. It computes optimal marginal tax rates for top earners in a Bewley-Aiyagari type economy explicitly accounting for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs make up more than one third of the highest-earning one percent in the income distribution despite representing less than ten percent of the population. They are thus disproportionately affected by an increase in the top marginal income tax rate. Since entrepreneurs overall also employ half of the private-sector workforce, such policy changes can have important repercussions for aggregate labor demand and productivity. Nonetheless, the welfare maximizing top marginal tax rate amounts to 82.5 percent, and the revenue maximizing one to 90 percent. A steady state comparison between the benchmark economy featuring the current US tax system and the economy with the welfare maximizing top marginal tax rate illustrates the underlying mechanisms. The substantial increase in taxes leads to a large degree of redistribution, yielding sizable welfare gains for low-income households. Lower equilibrium wages benefit medium-sized entrepreneurs and enable them to grow, such that all entrepreneurs except those directly affected by the higher tax experience considerable welfare gains.

Suggested Citation

  • Bettina Brueggemann, 2016. "Higher Taxes at the Top: The Role of Entrepreneurs," 2016 Meeting Papers 332, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed016:332
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    References listed on IDEAS

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