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Optimal Savings Taxation when Individuals have Different CRRA Utility Functions


  • Alan Krause


Recent empirical research has found that high-skill individuals tend to be less risk averse than low-skill individuals, which implies that their respective constant relative risk aversion (CRRA) utility functions have different curvature. This paper examines the effects of this form of preference heterogeneity on the classic question of whether taxing savings is desirable when the government also implements optimal nonlinear income taxation. It is shown that taxing or subsidising savings may be optimal, even if labour is separable from consumption in the utility function. Specifically, if the individuals' discount rate is lower (resp. higher) than the market interest rate, it is optimal to tax (resp. subsidise) savings. If the individuals' discount rate is equal to the market interest rate, zero taxation of savings is optimal. This basic relationship holds under both linear and nonlinear taxation of savings.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan Krause, 2012. "Optimal Savings Taxation when Individuals have Different CRRA Utility Functions," Discussion Papers 12/13, Department of Economics, University of York.
  • Handle: RePEc:yor:yorken:12/13

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Naito, Hisahiro, 1999. "Re-examination of uniform commodity taxes under a non-linear income tax system and its implication for production efficiency," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 165-188, February.
    2. Charles Blackorby & Craig Brett, 2004. "Production Efficiency and the Direct-Indirect Tax Mix," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 6(1), pages 165-180, February.
    3. Sören Blomquist & Vidar Christiansen, 2008. "Taxation and Heterogeneous Preferences," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 64(2), pages 218-244, June.
    4. 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.
    5. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2007. "The Race between Education and Technology: The Evolution of U.S. Educational Wage Differentials, 1890 to 2005," NBER Working Papers 12984, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. J. A. Mirrlees, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 175-208.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jang-Ting Guo & Alan Krause, 2015. "Changing Social Preferences and Optimal Redistributive Taxation," Working Papers 201512, University of California at Riverside, Department of Economics.
    2. Soriano-Morales, Yazmín Viridiana & Vallejo-Jiménez, Benjamín & Venegas-Martínez, Francisco, 2017. "Impact of the Degree of Relative Risk Aversion, the Interest Rate and the Exchange Rate Depreciation on Economic Welfare in a Small Open Economy," MPRA Paper 76441, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    Savings taxation; nonlinear income taxation; preference heterogeneity.;

    JEL classification:

    • 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

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