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IFS-STICERD Public Economics Seminar

A Theory of Income Taxation under Multidimensional Skill Heterogeneity

Florian Scheuer (University of Zurich), joint with Casey Rotschild

Wednesday 16 October 2013 16:30 - 17:30

Due to the onging coronavirus outbreak, many of our seminars and public events this year will continue as online seminars. Please check our website listings and Twitter feed @STICERD_LSE for updates.

About this event

We develop a unifying framework for optimal income taxation in multi-sector economies with general patterns of externalities. Agents in this model are characterized by an N-dimensional skill vector corresponding to intrinsic abilities in N potentially externality-causing activities. The private return to each activity depends on individual skill and the aggregate return, which is a fully general function of the economy-wide distribution of activity-specific efforts. We show that the N-dimensional heterogeneity can be collapsed to a one-dimensional, endogenous statistic sufficient for screening. The optimal tax schedule features a multiplicative income-specific correction to an otherwise standard tax formula. Because externalities change the relative returns to different activities, corrective taxes induce changes in the across-activity allocation of effort. These relative return effects cause the optimal correction to diverge, in general, from the Pigouvian tax that would align private and social returns. We characterize this divergence and its implications for the shape of the tax schedule both generally and in a number of applications, including externality-free economies, increasing and decreasing returns to scale, zero-sum activities such as bargaining or rent extraction, and positive or negative spillovers.

This seminar series is jointly organized by the IFS and STICERD.

IFS-STICERD Public Economics seminars are held on Wednesdays in term time at 16:30-17:30, ONLINE, unless specified otherwise.

Seminar organisers: Stuart Adam (IFS), Monica Costa Dias (IFS), Xavier Jaravel (LSE), Camille Landais (LSE), Attila Lindner (UCL), Joana Naritomi (LSE), and Johannes Spinnewijn (LSE).

For further information please contact Lubala Chibwe, either by email:

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