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High marginal tax rates on the top 1%?

Author

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  • Kindermann, Fabian
  • Krueger, Dirk

Abstract

In this paper we argue that very high marginal labor income tax rates are an effective tool for social insurance even when households have preferences with high labor supply elasticity, make dynamic savings decisions, and policies have general equilibrium effects. To make this point we construct a large scale Overlapping Generations Model with uninsurable labor productivity risk, show that it has a wealth distribution that matches the data well, and then use it to characterize fiscal policies that achieve a desired degree of redistribution in society. We find that marginal tax rates on the top 1% of the earnings distribution of close to 90% are optimal. We document that this result is robust to plausible variation in the labor supply elasticity and holds regardless of whether social welfare is measured at the steady state only or includes transitional generations.

Suggested Citation

  • Kindermann, Fabian & Krueger, Dirk, 2014. "High marginal tax rates on the top 1%?," CFS Working Paper Series 473, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:cfswop:473
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hans Fehr & Fabian Kindermann, 2012. "Optimal Taxation with Current and Future Cohorts," CESifo Working Paper Series 3973, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Jacobs, Bas & Schindler, Dirk, 2012. "On the desirability of taxing capital income in optimal social insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 853-868.
    3. Holter, Hans A. & Krueger, Dirk & Stepanchuk, Serhiy, 2014. "How does tax progressivity and household heterogeneity affect Laffer curves?," CFS Working Paper Series 490, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
    4. Conesa, Juan Carlos & Krueger, Dirk, 2006. "On the optimal progressivity of the income tax code," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1425-1450, October.
    5. Dirk Krueger & Alexander Ludwig, 2013. "Optimal Progressive Labor Income Taxation and Education Subsidies When Education Decisions and Intergenerational Transfers Are Endogenous," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 496-501, May.
    6. Juan Carlos Conesa & Sagiri Kitao & Dirk Krueger, 2009. "Taxing Capital? Not a Bad Idea after All!," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 25-48, March.
    7. Markus Poschke & Baris Kaymak & Ozan Bakis, 2012. "On the Optimality of Progressive Income Redistribution," 2012 Meeting Papers 837, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    8. David Domeij & Jonathan Heathcote, 2004. "On The Distributional Effects Of Reducing Capital Taxes," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(2), pages 523-554, May.
    9. Guner, Nezih & Lopez-Daneri, Martin & Ventura, Gustavo, 2016. "Heterogeneity and Government revenues: Higher taxes at the top?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 69-85.
    10. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-622, May.
    11. Mark Huggett & Alejandro Badel, 2013. "Taxing Top Earners: A Human Capital Perspective," 2013 Meeting Papers 625, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    12. Hsu, Minchung & Yang, C.C., 2013. "Optimal linear and two-bracket income taxes with idiosyncratic earnings risk," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 58-71.
    13. Peter Diamond & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "The Case for a Progressive Tax: From Basic Research to Policy Recommendations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 165-190, Fall.
    14. Javier Díaz-Giménez & Andrew Glover & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 2011. "Facts on the distributions of earnings, income, and wealth in the United States: 2007 update," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Charles I. Jones & Jihee Kim, 2014. "A Schumpeterian Model of Top Income Inequality," NBER Working Papers 20637, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Badel, Alejandro & Huggett, Mark, 2017. "The sufficient statistic approach: Predicting the top of the Laffer curve," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 1-12.
    3. Xavier Timbeau, 2015. "A diverging Europe on the edge: The independent Annual Growth Survey 2015," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/4s2r6d8kua9, Sciences Po.
    4. Mikhail Golosov & Maxim Troshkin & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2016. "Redistribution and Social Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(2), pages 359-386, February.
    5. Badel, Alejandro, 2015. "Quantitative Macro Versus Sufficient Statistic Approach: A Laffer Curve Dilemma?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, vol. 97(3), pages 257-267.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Progressive Taxation; Top 1%; Social Insurance; Income Inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • 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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