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The Taxation of Superstars

Florian Scheuer () and Iván Werning

The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2017, vol. 132, issue 1, 211-270

Abstract: How are optimal taxes affected by superstar phenomena? To answer this question, we extend the Mirrlees model to incorporate an assignment problem in the labor market that generates superstar effects. Perhaps surprisingly, rather than providing a rationale for higher taxes, we show that superstar effects provide a force for lower marginal taxes conditional on the observed distribution of earnings. Superstar effects make the earnings schedule convex, which increases the responsiveness of individual earnings to tax changes. We show that various common elasticity measures must be adjusted upward in optimal tax formulas. Finally, we study a comparative static that does not keep the observed earnings distribution fixed: when superstar technologies are introduced, inequality increases but we obtain a neutrality result, finding optimal taxes unaltered.

JEL-codes: D3 D8 E6 H2 J3 M5 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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Working Paper: The Taxation of Superstars (2015) Downloads
Working Paper: The Taxation of Superstars (2015) Downloads
Working Paper: The Taxation of Superstars (2015) Downloads
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