Webinar: Taxing the superrich

Nov
03
04:00 PM - 05:00 PM

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Webinar

Over the past decades, many developed countries have experienced considerable increases in income and wealth inequality, led by an extraordinary concentration among the very richest swath of households. This has focused policy attention on the superrich. Various political and economic arguments for at least partially offsetting this rise in inequality have been put forward. In particular, politicians have called for increasing the tax burden on rich households, in the form of both higher top rates for existing income taxes as well as new tax levies targeting the superrich. Most prominently, the idea of introducing an annual wealth tax has recently gained attention in the United States.

The webinar is based on a new paper by Florian Scheuer in which he provides an overview of the tax situation currently faced by the superrich and evaluates various reform proposals. He emphasizes that the incomes of the superrich are qualitatively different from others. He also discusses the pros and cons of wealth taxes versus alternative policies that achieve similar objectives. While a dozen OECD countries levied wealth taxes in the recent past, now just three retain them. Only Switzerland raises a similar fraction of revenue with its wealth tax as the recent U.S. proposals, which therefore serves as a useful example.

Over the past decades, many developed countries have experienced considerable increases in income and wealth inequality, led by an extraordinary concentration among the very richest swath of households. This has focused policy attention on the superrich. Various political and economic arguments for at least partially offsetting this rise in inequality have been put forward. In particular, politicians have called for increasing the tax burden on rich households, in the form of both higher top rates for existing income taxes as well as new tax levies targeting the superrich. Most prominently, the idea of introducing an annual wealth tax has recently gained attention in the United States.

The webinar is based on a new paper by Florian Scheuer in which he provides an overview of the tax situation currently faced by the superrich and evaluates various reform proposals. He emphasizes that the incomes of the superrich are qualitatively different from others. He also discusses the pros and cons of wealth taxes versus alternative policies that achieve similar objectives. While a dozen OECD countries levied wealth taxes in the recent past, now just three retain them. Only Switzerland raises a similar fraction of revenue with its wealth tax as the recent U.S. proposals, which therefore serves as a useful example.

Florian Scheuer, University of Zurich
Florian Scheuer, University of Zurich
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Program overview

Research slam: (In-)Equality and prosperity Wednesday, 21.10.2020 | 16:30–17:30 (CET)
Moderator: Nir Jaimovich
Speakers: participants as listed
Panel session: Inequality - facts and consequences Wednesday, 28.10.2020 | 16:00–17:00 (CET)
Moderator: James Mackintosh
Speakers: Janet Currie, David Dorn, Branko Milanovic
Webinar: Taxing the superrich Tuesday, 3.11.2020 | 16:00–17:00 (CET)
Speaker: Florian Scheuer
Keynote lecture: Inequality and the future of capitalism Wednesday, 11.11.2020 | 18:00–19:00 (CET)
Speaker: Nobel Laureate Sir Angus Deaton
Research slam: (In-)Equality and prosperity Wednesday, 21.10.2020 | 16:30–17:30 (CET)
Moderator: Nir Jaimovich
Speakers: participants as listed
Panel session: Inequality - facts and consequences Wednesday, 28.10.2020 | 16:00–17:00 (CET)
Moderator: James Mackintosh
Speakers: Janet Currie, David Dorn, Branko Milanovic
Webinar: Taxing the superrich Tuesday, 3.11.2020 | 16:00–17:00 (CET)
Speaker: Florian Scheuer
Keynote lecture: Inequality and the future of capitalism Wednesday, 11.11.2020 | 18:00–19:00 (CET)
Speaker: Nobel Laureate Sir Angus Deaton

Forum for Economic Dialogue

Special times call for special measures. That is why our annual forum will this year take place online. Despite the change in format, we have sought to maintain our customary standards. We have a series of events in store for you, focusing on different aspects of inequality – a topic that has become even more important in light of the global pandemic and its devastating consequences, which has hit many of the most vulnerable people in the world particularly hard. Visit our event hub for timely updates and background information.

Special times call for special measures. That is why our annual forum will this year take place online. Despite the change in format, we have sought to maintain our customary standards. We have a series of events in store for you, focusing on different aspects of inequality – a topic that has become even more important in light of the global pandemic and its devastating consequences, which has hit many of the most vulnerable people in the world particularly hard. Visit our event hub for timely updates and background information.

2020_forum2

Speaker

UBS Foundation Professor of Economics of Institutions

Florian Scheuer received his PhD from MIT in 2010. He is interested in the policy implications of rising inequality, with a focus on tax policy. In particular, he has worked on incorporating important features of real-world labor markets into the design of optimal income and wealth taxes. These include economies with rent-seeking, superstar effects or an important entrepreneurial sector, frictional financial markets, as well as political constraints on tax policy and the resulting inequality. His work has been published in the American Economic Review, the Journal of Political Economy, the Quarterly Journal of Economics and the Review of Economic Studies, among other journals. In 2017, he received an ERC starting grant for his research on “Inequality - Public Policy and Political Economy.” Before joining Zurich, he was on the faculty at Stanford, held visiting positions at Harvard and UC Berkeley and was a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is Co-Editor of Theoretical Economics and Member of the Board of Editors of the Review of Economic Studies. He is also a Co-Director of the working group on Macro Public Finance at the NBER. He has commented on tax policy in various US and Swiss media outlets.

UBS Foundation Professor of Economics of Institutions

Florian Scheuer received his PhD from MIT in 2010. He is interested in the policy implications of rising inequality, with a focus on tax policy. In particular, he has worked on incorporating important features of real-world labor markets into the design of optimal income and wealth taxes. These include economies with rent-seeking, superstar effects or an important entrepreneurial sector, frictional financial markets, as well as political constraints on tax policy and the resulting inequality. His work has been published in the American Economic Review, the Journal of Political Economy, the Quarterly Journal of Economics and the Review of Economic Studies, among other journals. In 2017, he received an ERC starting grant for his research on “Inequality - Public Policy and Political Economy.” Before joining Zurich, he was on the faculty at Stanford, held visiting positions at Harvard and UC Berkeley and was a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is Co-Editor of Theoretical Economics and Member of the Board of Editors of the Review of Economic Studies. He is also a Co-Director of the working group on Macro Public Finance at the NBER. He has commented on tax policy in various US and Swiss media outlets.