Inflation, Tax Rules, and the Accumulation of Residential and Nonresidential Capital

Martin Feldstein

NBER Working Paper No. 753 (Also Reprint No. r0331)
Issued in September 1981
NBER Program(s):   PE

The present paper analyses the effect of the interaction between tax rules and inflation on the size and allocation of the capital stock with particular emphasis on the role of owner-occupied housing. The analysis is developed in the framework of an economy that is in equilibrium and in which a constant fraction of disposable income is saved. In this model, I show that, with current U.S. tax laws, an increase in the rate of inflation reduces the equilibrium amount of business capital employed in the economy and raises the amount of housing capital. The analysis also shows that a higher rate of inflation lowers the real net-of-tax rate of return to the provider of business capital. In a richer model than the current one, i.e., in a model in which the rate of personal saving was an increasing function of the net rate of return, a higher inflation rate would therefore lower the rate of saving. The present analysis also shows that permitting firms to depreciate investments more rapidly for tax purposes increases the accumulations of business capital but that, unless firms are permitted to expense all in- vestment immediately, an increase in in£ lat ion continues to depress the accumulation of business capital.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w0753


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