NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Optimal Positive Capital Taxes at Interior Steady States

Jess Benhabib, Bálint Szőke

NBER Working Paper No. 25895
Issued in May 2019
NBER Program(s):Public Economics Program

We generalize recent results of Bassetto and Benhabib (2006) and Straub and Werning (2018) in a model with endogenous labor-leisure choice where all agents are allowed to save and accumulate capital. In particular, using a neoclassical infinite horizon model with standard balanced growth preferences and agents heterogeneous in their initial wealth holdings, we provide a sufficient condition under which optimal redistributive capital taxes can remain at their allowed upper bound forever, even if the resulting equilibrium trajectory converges to a unique steady state with positive and finite consumption, capital, and labor. We first generate some simple parametric examples which satisfy our sufficient condition and for which closed form solutions exist. We then provide an interpretation of our sufficient condition for equilibria induced by general constant returns neo-classical production functions. Using recent evidence on wealth distribution in the United States, we argue that our sufficient condition is empirically plausible.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25895

 
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