Finance and Economics Discussion Series (FEDS)
Macroeconomic Effects of Capital Tax Rate Changes
Saroj Bhattarai, Jae Won Lee, Woong Yong Park, and Choongryul Yang
We study aggregate, distributional, and welfare effects of a permanent reduction in the capital tax rate in a quantitative model with capital-skill complementarity and household heterogeneity. Such a tax reform leads to expansionary long-run aggregate output and investment effects, but those are coupled with increases in wage, consumption, and income inequality. The tax reform is not self-financing and its effects depend crucially on whether the government cuts lump-sum transfers or raises distortionary labor or consumption tax rates for financing. The former results in a larger aggregate expansion, but at the expense of a greater rise in inequality. As a result, the latter is relatively more beneficial for unskilled households. We find that the tax reform, when the consumption tax rate adjusts, leads to a Pareto improvement in terms of life-time welfare. For transition dynamics, monetary policy, in addition to the fiscal adjustments, matters. In particular, if monetary policy inflates away a portion of the public debt, the economy can avoid the short-run contraction that would arise otherwise.
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