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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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Abstract

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 effects 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 efficiency of the taxation system.

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