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The Optimal Taxation of Height: A Case Study of Utilitarian Income Redistribution

N. Gregory Mankiw () and Matthew Weinzierl ()

No 09-139, Harvard Business School Working Papers from Harvard Business School

Abstract: Should the income tax include a credit for short taxpayers and a surcharge for tall ones? The standard Utilitarian framework for tax analysis answers this question in the affirmative. Moreover, a plausible parameterization using data on height and wages implies a substantial height tax: a tall person earning $50,000 should pay $4,500 more in tax than a short person. One interpretation is that personal attributes correlated with wages should be considered more widely for determining taxes. Alternatively, if policies such as a height tax are rejected, then the standard Utilitarian framework must fail to capture intuitive notions of distributive justice.

New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-pub
Date: 2009-06
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Journal Article: The Optimal Taxation of Height: A Case Study of Utilitarian Income Redistribution (2010) Downloads
Working Paper: The Optimal Taxation of Height: A Case Study of Utilitarian Income Redistribution (2009) Downloads
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