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Optimal Nonlinear Taxation of Income and Savings Without Commitment

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  • Craig Brett

    () (Mount Allison University)

  • John A Weymark

    () (Vanderbilt University)

Abstract

When a government is unable to commit to its future tax policies, information about taxpayers' characteristics revealed by their behavior may be used to extract more taxes from them in the future. We examine the implications of this ratchet effect for the design of redistributive income and savings tax policies in a two-period model with two types of individuals who only differ in their skill levels. When commitment is not possible, it may be optimal to separate, pool, or partially pool different types in period one. The nature of the distortions to labor supplies and savings are investigated for each of these three regimes. Novel rationales for savings distortions are identified.

Suggested Citation

  • Craig Brett & John A Weymark, 2016. "Optimal Nonlinear Taxation of Income and Savings Without Commitment," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 16-00010, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:vuecon-sub-16-00007
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Aronsson, Thomas & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2013. "Publicly Provided Private Goods and Optimal Taxation when Consumers Have Positional Preferences," Working Papers in Economics 558, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    2. Jang-Ting Guo & Alan Krause, 2018. "Changing social preferences and optimal redistributive taxation," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 73-92.
    3. Thomas Aronsson & David Granlund, 2014. "Present-Biased Preferences and Publicly Provided Private Goods," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 70(2), pages 169-199, June.
    4. Guo, Jang-Ting & Krause, Alan, 2015. "Dynamic nonlinear income taxation with quasi-hyperbolic discounting and no commitment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 101-119.
    5. Aronsson, Thomas & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2014. "Genuine Saving and Conspicuous Consumption," Umeå Economic Studies 900, Umeå University, Department of Economics.
    6. Jenny Simon, 2014. "Imperfect Financial Markets as a Commitment Device for the Government," CESifo Working Paper Series 4902, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Marcus Berliant & John O. Ledyard, 2014. "Optimal Dynamic Nonlinear Income Taxes with No Commitment," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 16(2), pages 196-221, April.
    8. Shigeo Morita, 2014. "The time consistent public goods provision," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 14-31, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP).
    9. Jang‐Ting Guo & Alan Krause, 2011. "Optimal Nonlinear Income Taxation with Habit Formation," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 13(3), pages 463-480, June.
    10. Aronsson, Thomas & Sjögren, Tomas, 2016. "Quasi-hyperbolic discounting, paternalism and optimal mixed taxation," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 24-36.
    11. Garon, Jean-Denis, 2016. "The commitment value of funding pensions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 11-14.
    12. Alan Krause, 2015. "On Redistributive Taxation under the Threat of High-Skill Emigration," Discussion Papers 15/21, Department of Economics, University of York.
    13. Craig Brett, 2012. "The effects of population aging on optimal redistributive taxes in an overlapping generations model," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 19(6), pages 777-799, December.
    14. Aronsson, Thomas & Sjögren, Tomas, 2017. "Optimal Taxation, Redistribution, and Environmental Externalities," Umeå Economic Studies 950, Umeå University, Department of Economics.
    15. repec:ebl:ecbull:eb-17-00175 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. repec:ces:ifodic:v:11:y:2014:i:4:p:19105974 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Jenny Simon, 2014. "The Role of Imperfect Financial Markets for Social Redistribution," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 11(4), pages 32-37, 01.
    18. Aronsson, Thomas & Granlund, David, 2010. "Present-Biased Preferences and Publicly Provided Health Care," HUI Working Papers 41, HUI Research.
    19. Aronsson, Thomas & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2011. "State-Variable Public Goods When Relative Consumption Matters: A Dynamic Optimal Taxation Approach," Umeå Economic Studies 828, Umeå University, Department of Economics.
    20. Shigeo Morita, 2014. "Optimal income taxation without commitment: policy implications of durable goods," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 14-32, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP).
    21. repec:spr:sochwe:v:48:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s00355-017-1038-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Aronsson, Thomas & Johansson-Stenman, olof, 2013. "State-Variable Public Goods and Social Comparisons over Time," Working Papers in Economics 555, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    asymmetric information; commitment; optimal income taxation; ratchet effect; savings taxation;

    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty

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