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Mental Accounting Effects of Income Tax Shifting

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Author Info

  • Naomi E. Feldman

    (Ben-Gurion University, Be'er Sheva, Israel)

Abstract

This paper analyzes a 1992 decrease in U.S. federal income tax withholding that shifted the timing of income tax payments while leaving ultimate tax burdens unchanged. Consequently income typically received as a lump-sum refund on filing a tax return was shifted into the previous year's monthly income. This paper considers the impact of the withholding change in the context of mental accounting and finds a decrease in the probability that households contributed to a tax-preferred retirement account. Additional robustness tests show that short-term saving did not simultaneously increase and that the main findings are not driven by liquidity constraints. © 2010 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/rest.2009.11892
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 92 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 70-86

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:92:y:2010:i:1:p:70-86

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Web page: http://mitpress.mit.edu/journals/

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Cited by:
  1. Damon Jones, 2012. "Inertia and Overwithholding: Explaining the Prevalence of Income Tax Refunds," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 158-85, February.
  2. Justine Hastings & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2012. "Mental Accounting and Consumer Choice: Evidence from Commodity Price Shocks," NBER Working Papers 18248, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Damon Jones, 2010. "Inertia and Overwithholding: Explaining the Prevalence of Income Tax Refunds," NBER Working Papers 15963, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Kaustia, Markku & Rantapuska, Elias, 2012. "Rational and behavioral motives to trade: Evidence from reinvestment of dividends and tender offer proceeds," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(8), pages 2366-2378.

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