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The scope of political redistribution with proportional income taxation

Lopez-Rodriguez, David (2011): The scope of political redistribution with proportional income taxation.

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This paper investigates the politicians �incentives to pursue income redistribution when governments are constrained to levy taxes on labor income and this creates distortions. Politicians who strive to be elected may strategically redistribute through in-kind rather than cash transfers and overprovide consumption of goods. I show that the overprovision of in-kind transfers reduces the disincentive e¤ects of taxation in labor effort and enlarges the pool of resources for political redistribution. As a result, politicians are able to implement larger redistributive transfers and improve the well-being of swing voters. Hence, electoral competition for pivotal voters provides politicians incentives to implement redistributive schedules that reduce distortions in labor markets and improve the e¢ ciency of the taxation system.

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