Optimal TaxMain article: Optimal tax
Most governments take revenue which exceeds that which can be provided by non-distortionary taxes or through taxes which give a double dividend. Optimal taxation theory is the branch of economics that considers how taxes can be structured to give the least deadweight costs, or to give the best outcomes in terms of social welfare. The Ramsey problem deals with minimizing deadweight costs. Because deadweight costs are related to the elasticity of supply and demand for a good, it follows that putting the highest tax rates on the goods for which there is most inelastic supply and demand will result in the least overall deadweight costs. Some economists sought to integrate optimal tax theory with the social welfare function, which is the economic expression of the idea that equality is valuable to a greater or lesser extent. If individuals experience diminishing returns from income, then the optimum distribution of income for society involves a progressive income tax. Mirrlees optimal income tax is a detailed theoretical model of the optimum progressive income tax along these lines. Over the last years the validity of the theory of optimal taxation was discussed by many political economists. Canegrati (2007) demonstrated that if we move from the assumption that governments do not maximise the welfare of society but the probability of winning elections, the tax rates in equilibrium are lower for the most powerful groups of society, instead of being the lowest for the poorest as in the optimal theory of direct taxation developed by Atkinson and Joseph Stiglitz. See Canegrati's formulae.
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