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Simulating the impact of inflation on the progressivity of personal income tax in Brazil

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  • Horacio Levy
  • José Ricardo Nogueira
  • Rozane Bezerra Siqueira
  • Herwig Immervoll
  • Cathal O'Donoghue

Abstract

Income tax reform proposals in Brazil have focused almost exclusively on changes in rates, aiming at increasing its progressivity. One important aspect that has been overlooked is the fact that, in the absence of a mechanism that adjusts the tax rules to price movements, the effects of inflation on the level and distribution of the income tax burden can be substantial, even in periods of low inflation (“bracket creep”, fiscal drag). Moreover, how inflation affects the progressivity of the income tax depends on the specifics of the tax structure. Making use of a tax-benefit microsimulation model for Brazil (BRAHMS), we simulate different scenarios regarding the level of inflation and the adjustment of the income tax rules in order to assess the potential revenue and distributive effects of inflation on the income tax in Brazil. Our findings suggest that the Brazilian income tax is quite sensitive to fiscal drag. If the income tax is not adjusted for inflation, progressivity would decrease but redistribution would increase due to a larger tax burden. However, as income tax revenue and redistribution are quite low, even after relatively high levels of inflation, the tax burden and income inequality would not substantially change.

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Article provided by FGV/EPGE Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finanças, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil) in its journal Revista Brasileira de Economia.

Volume (Year): 64 (2010)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 405-422

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Handle: RePEc:fgv:epgrbe:v:64:n:4:a:4

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  1. Durevall, Dick, 1998. "Inertial Inflation, Indexation and Price Stickiness: Evidence from Brazil," Working Papers in Economics 8, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  2. Wagstaff, Adam & van Doorslaer, Eddy & van der Burg, Hattem & Calonge, Samuel & Christiansen, Terkel & Citoni, Guido & Gerdtham, Ulf-G. & Gerfin, Michael & Gross, Lorna & Hakinnen, Unto, 1999. "Redistributive effect, progressivity and differential tax treatment: Personal income taxes in twelve OECD countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 73-98, April.
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  4. Herwig Immervoll & Horacio Levy & José Ricardo Nogueira & Cathal O´Donoghue & Rozane Bezerra de Siqueira, 2005. "The Impact of Brazil´s Tax-Benefit System on Inequality and Poverty," Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers 117, Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research.
  5. Plotnick, Robert, 1981. "A Measure of Horizontal Inequity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 63(2), pages 283-88, May.
  6. Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A., 1980. "A single-parameter generalization of the Gini indices of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 67-86, February.
  7. Martin S. Feldstein, 1997. "The Costs and Benefits of Going from Low Inflation to Price Stability," NBER Chapters, in: Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy, pages 123-166 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Rozane Bezerra de Siqueira & José Ricardo Nogueira & Cathal O'Donoghue, 2003. "Simulating Brazil Tax-Benefit System Using Brahms, the Brazilian Household Microsimulation Model," Anais do XXXI Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 31th Brazilian Economics Meeting], ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Gr b50, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
  9. Emmanuel Saez, 1999. "Do Taxpayers Bunch at Kink Points?," NBER Working Papers 7366, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Jean-Yves Duclos, 2000. "Gini Indices and the Redistribution of Income," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 141-162, March.
  11. Maurício Cortez Reis & Gabriel Ulyssea, 2005. "Cunha Fiscal, Informalidade e Crescimento : Algumas Questões e Propostas de Políticas," Discussion Papers 1068, Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada - IPEA.
  12. Immervoll, H., 2000. "Fiscal Drag - An Automatic Stabiliser?," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0025, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  13. Aronson, J Richard & Johnson, Paul & Lambert, Peter J, 1994. "Redistributive Effects and Unequal Income Tax Treatment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(423), pages 262-70, March.
  14. Herwig Immervoll, 2005. "Falling Up The Stairs: The Effects Of "Bracket Creep" On Household Incomes," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 51(1), pages 37-62, 03.
  15. Kakwani, Nanok C, 1977. "Measurement of Tax Progressivity: An International Comparison," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 87(345), pages 71-80, March.
  16. Luiz Carlos Bresser Pereira, 1991. "A lógica perversa da estagnação: dívida, déficit e inflação no Brasil," Revista Brasileira de Economia, FGV/EPGE Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finanças, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil), vol. 45(2), pages 187-212, April.
  17. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1978. "Measures of relative equality and their meaning in terms of social welfare," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 59-80, June.
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