Voting Over Income Taxation
55 Pages Posted: 28 Mar 2006
A major problem of the positive theory of income taxation is to explain why statutory income tax schedules in practice are marginal-rate progressive. While it is commonly believed that this is but a simple consequence of the fact that the number of relatively poor voters exceeds that of richer voters in general, putting this contention in a voting equilibrium context is not a trivial task. We do this here in the context of nonlinear taxation and attempt to provide a formal argument in support of this heuristic claim. We first establish the existence of mixed strategy equilibria and identify certain cases in which marginal-rate progressive taxes are chosen almost surely by the political parties. Unfortunately, we also find that if the tax policy space is not artificially constrained, the support of at least one equilibrium cannot be contained within the set of marginal-rate progressive taxes.
Keywords: progressive taxation, electoral competition, discontinuous games, mixed strategy equilibrium
JEL Classification: H23, H31, D72, D78
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