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Optimal taxation with rent-seeking

Author: Casey Rothschild; Florian Scheuer; National Bureau of Economic Research.
Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : National Bureau of Economic Research, ©2011.
Series: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. 17035.
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Recent policy proposals have suggested taxing top incomes at very high rates on the grounds that some or all of the highest wage earners are engaged in socially unproductive or counterproductive activities, such as externality imposing speculation in the financial sector. To address this, we provide a model in which agents can choose between working in a traditional sector, where private and social products  Read more...
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Additional Physical Format: Print version:
Rothschild, Casey.
Optimal taxation with rent-seeking.
Cambridge, Mass. : National Bureau of Economic Research, ©2011
(DLC) 2011657241
Material Type: Document, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Casey Rothschild; Florian Scheuer; National Bureau of Economic Research.
OCLC Number: 721999222
Description: 1 online resource (59 pages) : illustrations.
Series Title: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. 17035.
Responsibility: Casey Rothschild, Florian Scheuer.

Abstract:

Recent policy proposals have suggested taxing top incomes at very high rates on the grounds that some or all of the highest wage earners are engaged in socially unproductive or counterproductive activities, such as externality imposing speculation in the financial sector. To address this, we provide a model in which agents can choose between working in a traditional sector, where private and social products coincide, and a crowdable rent-seeking sector, where some or all of earned income reflects the capture of pre-existing output rather than increased production. We characterize Pareto optimal linear and non-linear income tax systems under the assumption that the social planner cannot or does not observe whether any given individual is a traditional worker or a rent-seeker. We find that optimal marginal taxes on the highest wage earners can remain remarkably modest even if all high earners are socially unproductive rent-seekers and the government has a strong intrinsic desire for progressive redistribution. Intuitively, taxing their effort at a lower rate stimulates their rent-seeking efforts, thereby keeping private returns for other potential rent-seekers low and discouraging further entry.

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