Tax Buyouts: Raising Government Revenues without Increasing Labor Tax Distortions
At a time of increasing fiscal pressures both here and abroad, it seems important to consider ways of raising government revenues without discouraging people from working. This post describes a revenue raising plan—a tax “buyout”—that does just that. The buyout would give you, the taxpayer, the option each year of paying a lump sum to the government in exchange for a given reduction in your marginal tax rate that year. In effect, you would use the lump sum payment to buy yourself a lower marginal tax rate, which would in turn give you more incentive to work. The buyout would be risk free: you wouldn’t have to decide whether to take the buyout until after you know your labor income. Why would this be good for you? If you choose to take it, you end up paying less taxes. If you don’t take it, you are just as well off as before. Why is this good for society? The lower marginal tax rate induces you to work more, so that some of the distortionary effects of taxation would disappear. Furthermore, your participation would be voluntary, so the buyout should be politically palatable.