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The Income and Tax Share of Very High-Income Households, 1960-1995

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  • James M. Poterba
  • Daniel R. Feenberg

Abstract

This paper presents new information on the fraction of adjusted gross income, and of wages and salaries, that is reported by taxpayers in the top one half of one percent of the income distribution. This corresponds to roughly five hundred thousand households in the late 1990s. This paper relies on data from the Treasury's Individual Income Tax Model for the period 1960-1995. The definition of adjusted gross income is standardized, so that changes in the tax law do not affect the measured concentration of AGI. The results suggest that the share of AGI reported by the highest income households increased significantly between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s, with most of the increase taking place in the years immediately following the Tax Reform Act of 1986. While we find some evidence of transitory changes in the concentration of income around major tax changes, which may be the result of income retiming by high income taxpayers, re-timing does not seem to explain most of the changes since 1986.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.90.2.264
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 90 (2000)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 264-270

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:90:y:2000:i:2:p:264-270

Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.90.2.264
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References

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  1. Austan Goolsbee, 2000. "Taxes, High-Income Executives, and the Perils of Revenue Estimation in the New Economy," NBER Working Papers 7626, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Daniel Feenberg & James Poterba, 1992. "Income Inequality and the Incomes of Very High Income Taxpayers: Evidence from Tax Returns," NBER Working Papers 4229, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Brian J. Hall & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 1997. "Are CEOs Really Paid Like Bureaucrats?," NBER Working Papers 6213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Joel Slemrod & Jon Bakija, 2000. "Does Growing Inequality Reduce Tax Progressivity? Should It?," NBER Working Papers 7576, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Feldstein, Martin & Poterba, James M. (ed.), 1996. "Empirical Foundations of Household Taxation," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226240978.
  6. Roger H. Gordon & Joel Slemrod, 1998. "Are "Real" Responses to Taxes Simply Income Shifting Between Corporate and Personal Tax Bases?," NBER Working Papers 6576, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Jonathan A. Schwabish, 2006. "Earnings Inequality and High Earners: Changes During and after the Stock Market Boom of the 1990s: Working Paper 2006-06," Working Papers 17738, Congressional Budget Office.
  2. José Mª Durán Cabré & Alejandro Esteller Moré, 2007. "An empirical analysis of wealth taxation: Equity vs. tax compliance," Working Papers 2007/1, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
  3. Bach, Stefan & Corneo, Giacomo & Steiner, Viktor, 2012. "Optimal top marginal tax rates under income splitting for couples," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(6), pages 1055-1069.
  4. Marcelo Medeiros, 2006. "The Rich and the Poor: The Construction of an Affluence Line from the Poverty Line," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 78(1), pages 1-18, 08.
  5. Ho-Chuan (River) Huang & WenShwo Fang & Stephen M. Miller, 2012. "The Effect of Growth Volatility on Income Inequality," Working Papers 1203, University of Nevada, Las Vegas , Department of Economics.

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