The Optimal Taxation of Height: A Case Study of Utilitarian Income Redistribution
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CitationMankiw, N. Gregory and Matthew Weinzierl. 2007. The optimal taxation of height: A case study of utilitarian income redistribution. Working paper, Harvard University.
AbstractShould the income tax system include a tax credit for short taxpayers and a tax surcharge for tall ones? This paper shows that the standard Utilitarian framework for tax policy analysis answers this question in the affirmative. Moreover, based on the empirical distribution of height and wages, the optimal height tax is substantial: a tall person earning $50,000 should pay about $4,500 more in taxes than a short person earning the same income. This result has two possible interpretations. One interpretation is that individual attributes correlated with wages, such as height, should be considered more widely for determining tax liabilities. Alternatively, if policies such as a tax on height are rejected, then the standard Utilitarian framework must in some way fail to capture our intuitive notions of distributive justice.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:2766650