Inflation distorts an economy through many channels. This paper highlights the interaction between inflation and capital gains tax and how they distort an economy through the financial market. Several observations motivate this research. First, capital formation or investment is an important channel for economic agents to smooth their consumption over their life cycles. Second, capital gains are taxed only when the gains are realized. Third, inflation introduces an upward bias in the calculation of the tax base. Thus, a capital gains tax in the presence of inflation can have a large welfare effect even though its contribution to the government revenue is relatively small.

This paper supplements the literature on the overlapping generations model with money. In a world with imperfect capital markets where all agents consume cash goods, inflation transfers purchasing power from cash-rich generations to cash-poor generations who suffer more from liquidity constraints. This observation makes the welfare analysis here more interesting.

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Also published as:

International Review of Economics and Finance (1059-0560)
2000. Vol. 9, Iss. 3, pp. 195-208