This thesis is composed of three essays, and contributes to the literature on optimal design of tax and transfers schemes in heterogeneous agents general equilibrium models.
In the first chapter, Redistributive Capital Taxation Revisited, co-authored with Ctirad Slavik and Hakki Yazici, we use a rich quantitative model with endogenous skill acquisition to show that capital-skill complementarity provides a quantitatively significant rationale to tax capital for redistributive governments. The optimal capital income tax rate is 67%, while it is 61% in an identically calibrated model without capital-skill complementarity. The skill premium falls from 1.9 to 1.84 along the transition following the optimal reform in the capital-skill complementarity model, implying substantial indirect redistribution from skilled to unskilled workers. These results show that a redistributive government should take into account capital-skill complementarity when taxing capital.
In the second chapter, Optimal Taxation of Automation, I focus on the asymmetric effects of automation on labor markets. I provide a general equilibrium model that distinguishes between low-and high-skill automation to study optimal taxation of those technologies. Low-skill (high-skill) automation generates a downward pressure on low-skill (high-skill) wages. Modeling the two types of automation is important as both are empirically relevant, and each has a different impact on wages of workers with different skill types. I calibrate the model to the US economy along several dimensions, and find that for a given level of technology, it is optimal to distort automation adoption in order to compress wage inequality and increase labor share of income to provide redistribution. In particular, it is optimal to tax low-skill automation while subsidize high-skill automation when the transitional dynamics are taken into account. As a result, consumption inequality and both before and after-tax income inequality decline and labor share of income increases relative to status-quo over transition.
In the third chapter, On the Implications of Unemployment Insurance and Universal Basic Income in a Frictional Labor Market, I revisit the efficiency and equality considerations regarding the optimal provision of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits when workers' outside options vary substantially. The chapter aims to make comparisons between UI and universal basic income (UBI) policies to see whether UBI could be a tool to improve workers' hand in the wage setting and how transfers to unemployed -UI or UBI - and taxes impact the wage setting outcome across income distribution.