• Print
  • Email

Working Paper, No. 2022-12, April 2022 Crossref
Redistribution with Performance Pay

Half of the jobs in the U.S. feature pay-for-performance. We derive novel incidence and optimum formulas for the overall rate of tax progressivity and the top tax rates on total earnings and bonuses, when such labor contracts arise from moral hazard frictions within firms. Optimal taxes account for the fiscal externalities and welfare consequences of two distinct forces: a direct crowding-out of private insurance and a countervailing crowding-in due to endogenous labor effort responses. These imply that the amount of pre-tax earnings risk to which the worker is exposed is roughly invariant to tax progressivity, whereas the (adverse) welfare consequences of the crowd-out outweigh those of the crowd-in. Quantitatively, the optimal tax policy with performance-pay contracts is close to that prescribed by standard models that treat pre-tax earnings risk as exogenous. Finally, we uncover an efficiency-based argument for taxing bonuses at strictly lower rates than base earnings.


Working papers are not edited, and all opinions and errors are the responsibility of the author(s). The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago or the Federal Reserve System.

Having trouble accessing something on this page? Please send us an email and we will get back to you as quickly as we can.

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, 230 South LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois 60604-1413, USA. Tel. (312) 322-5322

Copyright © 2022. All rights reserved.

Please review our Privacy Policy | Legal Notices