Tax Progressivity and Income Inequality

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This book assembles nine research papers written by leading public-finance economists on the subject of tax progressivity and its relationship to income inequality. The papers document the changes during the 1980s in progressivity at the federal, state, and local levels in the United States. Conceptual issues about how to measure progressivity are investigated, as well as the extent to which declining progressivity contributed to the well-documented increase in income inequality over the past two decades. Several papers investigate the economic impact and cost of progressive tax systems. Special attention is given to behavioral responses - including portfolio composition - to the taxation of high-income individuals. The concluding papers address the contentious issue of what constitutes a "fair" tax system. They contrast public attitudes concerning alternative tax systems to economists' notions of fairness, and examine the trade-off between fairness and economic growth. Each paper is followed by the formal commentary of a conference participant plus a summary of the conference discussion.
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Editorial Reviews

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"The papers provide sufficient detail on methodology to be valuable to others wanting to work in the area, and are also accessible to a broader audience. The comments of the discussants add considerable value to the volume by providing alternative perspectives. The inclusion of discussant comments and a summary of frequently insightful comments of attendees bring to mind Brookings volumes on public policy issues. This volume should be of interest to a similar audience." Gerald E. Austen, Journal of Economic Literature
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521465434
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2014
  • Pages: 375
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Table of Contents

List of contributors
1 Introduction 1
2 Trends in federal tax progressivity, 1980-93 9
3 The lifetime incidence of state and local taxes: measuring changes during the 1980s 59
4 Trends in income inequality: the impact of, and implications for, tax policy 95
5 The efficiency cost of increased progressivity 137
6 On the high-income Laffer curve 177
7 Tax progressivity and household portfolios: descriptive evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances 219
8 Progressivity of capital gains taxation with optimal portfolio selection 275
9 Perceptions of fairness in the crucible of tax policy 309
10 Progressive taxation, equity, and tax design 341
Index 357
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