IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/sef/csefwp/206.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

I Will Survive: Capital Taxation, Voter Turnout and Time Inconsistency

Author

Abstract

This paper reconsiders the debate around the political determination of capital income taxes and explains why such taxes survive in most OECD countries. The political economy literature on redistributive politics (Persson and Tabellini 2003) emphasizes the role played by the lower class in the political arena: being labor more concentrated than capital, the majority of the population benefits by overtaxing capital and undertaxing labour. However, in reality, political participation (voting, lobbying, protesting etc.) is positively correlated with income. Therefore, a paradoxical result emerges: why do the upper class, who is politically more active and own most of the capital, still favour a positive capital tax? Hence, voters' income is not the sole relevant variable in the political determination of the capital tax. To reconcile this apparent puzzle, we propose a model that incorporates time inconsistency à la Laibson in individual preferences We show that time inconsistent individuals are politically more homogeneous (or “single-minded”) than far-sighted, and prefer to tax more capital income, instead of labor income, since accumulated saving are below the planned (and optimal) level and the distortionary effects of a higher capital tax are not only reduced but also delayed in time. We demonstrate that, since politicians find easier to please hyperbolic voters by proposing a tax policy that includes lower labor and higher capital taxes compared to an economy with only far sighted. Moreover, we show that, as the proportion of time inconsistent individuals in the population increases, the tax policy becomes more and more biased towards capital taxation.

Suggested Citation

  • Matteo Bassi, 2008. "I Will Survive: Capital Taxation, Voter Turnout and Time Inconsistency," CSEF Working Papers 206, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  • Handle: RePEc:sef:csefwp:206
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.csef.it/WP/wp206.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Auerbach, Alan J & Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Skinner, Jonathan, 1983. "The Efficiency Gains from Dynamic Tax Reform," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 24(1), pages 81-100, February.
    2. repec:cup:apsrev:v:96:y:2002:i:03:p:565-574_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Erosa, Andres & Gervais, Martin, 2002. "Optimal Taxation in Life-Cycle Economies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 105(2), pages 338-369, August.
    4. Alan J. Auerbach, 1979. "The Optimal Taxation of Heterogeneous Capital," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 93(4), pages 589-612.
    5. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
    6. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 2003. "Capital income taxation when inherited wealth is not observable," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(11), pages 2475-2490, October.
    7. Michele Bernasconi & Paola Profeta, 2007. "Redistribution or Education? The Political Economy of the Social Race," CESifo Working Paper Series 1934, CESifo Group Munich.
    8. David I. Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 1998. "Self-Control and Saving for Retirement," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(1), pages 91-196.
    9. Paola Profeta, 2002. "Retirement and Social Security in a Probabilistic Voting Model," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 9(4), pages 331-348, August.
    10. Chari, V V & Christiano, Lawrence J & Kehoe, Patrick J, 1994. "Optimal Fiscal Policy in a Business Cycle Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 617-652, August.
    11. Kenneth L. Judd, 1997. "The Optimal Tax Rate for Capital Income is Negative," NBER Working Papers 6004, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Judd, Kenneth L., 1999. "Optimal taxation and spending in general competitive growth models," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 1-26, January.
    13. Atkinson, A B & Sandmo, A, 1980. "Welfare Implications of the Taxation of Savings," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(359), pages 529-549, September.
    14. Martin Feldstein, 1978. "The Welfare Cost of Capital Income Taxation," NBER Chapters,in: Research in Taxation, pages 29-51 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Andrew B. Abel, 2007. "Optimal Capital Income Taxation," NBER Working Papers 13354, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Judd, Kenneth L., 1985. "Redistributive taxation in a simple perfect foresight model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 59-83, October.
    17. Alan J. Auerbach, 2006. "The Future of Capital Income Taxation," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 27(4), pages 399-420, December.
    18. Michael P. Devereux & Rachel Griffith & Alexander Klemm, 2002. "Corporate income tax reforms and international tax competition," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 17(35), pages 449-495, October.
    19. Chamley, Christophe, 1981. "The Welfare Cost of Capital Income Taxation in a Growing Economy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(3), pages 468-496, June.
    20. E. S. Phelps & R. A. Pollak, 1968. "On Second-Best National Saving and Game-Equilibrium Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(2), pages 185-199.
    21. 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.
    22. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-622, May.
    23. David Laibson, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
    24. David I. Laibson, 1996. "Hyperbolic Discount Functions, Undersaving, and Savings Policy," NBER Working Papers 5635, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    25. Fischer, Stanley, 1980. "Dynamic inconsistency, cooperation and the benevolent dissembling government," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 93-107, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Political Economy; Multidimensional Voting; Capital Taxation; Redistribution; Hyperbolic Discounting;

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household

    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:sef:csefwp:206. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lia Ambrosio). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/cssalit.html .

    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 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.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.