The Politics of Progressive Income Taxation with Incentive Effects
38 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2000
Date Written: July 2000
This paper studies majority voting over non-linear income taxes when individuals respond to taxation by substituting untaxable leisure to taxable labor. We first show that voting cycle over progressive and regressive taxes is inevitable. This is because the middle-class can always lower its tax burden at the expense of the rich by imposing progressive taxes (convex tax function) while the rich and the poor can reduce their tax burden at the expense of the middle-class by imposing regressive taxes (concave tax function). We then investigate three solutions to this cycling problem: (i) reducing the policy space to the policies that are ideal for some voter; (ii) weakening the voting equilibrium concept; (iii) assuming parties also care about the size of their majority. The main result is that progressivity emerges as a voting equilibrium if there is a lack of polarization at the extremes of the income distribution. Interestingly the poor would prefer regressive taxes.
Keywords: Majority Voting, Income Taxation, Tax Progressivity
JEL Classification: D72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation