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Practical Optimal Income Taxation
We review methods used to numerically compute optimal Mirrleesian tax and transfer schedules in heterogeneous agent economies. We show that the coarseness of the productivity grid, while a technical detail in terms of theory, is critical for delivering quantitative policy prescriptions. Existing methods are reliable only when a very fine grid is used. The problem is acute for computational approaches that use a version of the Diamond-Saez implicit optimal tax formula. If using a very fine grid for productivity is impractical, then optimizing within a flexible parametric class is preferable to ...
Optimal Income Taxation: Mirrlees Meets Ramsey
What structure of income taxation maximizes the social benefits of redistribution while minimizing the social harm associated with distorting the allocation of labor input? Many authors have advocated scrapping the current tax system, which redistributes primarily via marginal tax rates that rise with income, and replacing it with a flat tax system, in which marginal tax rates are constant and redistribution is achieved via non-means-tested transfers. In this paper we compare alternative tax systems in an environment with distinct roles for public and private insurance. We evaluate ...