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Behavioral Responses to Taxes: Lessons from the EITC and Labor Supply

In: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 20

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  • Nada Eissa
  • Hilary W. Hoynes

Abstract

Twenty-two million families currently receive a total of $34 billion dollars in benefits from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). In fact, the EITC is the largest cash transfer program for lower-income families at the federal level. An unusual feature of the credit is its explicit goal to use the tax system to encourage and support those who choose to work. A large body of work has evaluated the labor supply effects the EITC and has generated several important findings regarding the behavioral response to taxes. Perhaps the main lesson learned from the evidence is the confirmation that real responses to taxes are important; labor supply does respond to the EITC. The second major lesson is related to the nature of the labor supply response. A consistent finding is that labor supply responses are concentrated along the extensive (entry) margin, rather than the intensive (hours worked) margin. This distinction has important implications for the design of tax-transfer programs and for the welfare evaluation of tax reforms.

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This chapter was published in:

  • James Poterba, 2006. "Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 20," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number pote06-1.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 0063.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:0063

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    1. Smeeding, Timothy M. & Phillips, Katherin Ross & O’Connor, Michael, 2000. "The EITC: Expectation, Knowledge, Use, and Economic and Social Mobility," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 53(n. 4), pages 1187-210, December.
    2. Bruce D. Meyer & Dan T. Rosenbaum, 2001. "Welfare, The Earned Income Tax Credit, And The Labor Supply Of Single Mothers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(3), pages 1063-1114, August.
    3. Eissa, Nada & Liebman, Jeffrey B, 1996. "Labor Supply Response to the Earned Income Tax Credit," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 605-37, May.
    4. Nada Eissa, 1995. "Taxation and Labor Supply of Married Women: The Tax Reform Act of 1986 as a Natural Experiment," NBER Working Papers 5023, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    9. Jeffrey B. Liebman, 1998. "The Impact of the Earned Income Tax Credit on Incentives and Income Distribution," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 12, pages 83-120 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Jennifer L. Romich & Thomas Weisner, 2000. "How Families View and Use the EITC: Advanced Payment versus Lump-sum Delivery," JCPR Working Papers 138, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
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    17. Eissa, Nada & Kleven, Henrik Jacobsen & Kreiner, Claus Thustrup, 2008. "Evaluation of four tax reforms in the United States: Labor supply and welfare effects for single mothers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3-4), pages 795-816, April.
    18. Bound, John & Brown, Charles & Mathiowetz, Nancy, 2001. "Measurement error in survey data," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 59, pages 3705-3843 Elsevier.
    19. Meyer, Bruce D. & Rosenbaum, Dan T., 2000. "Making Single Mothers Work: Recent Tax and Welfare Policy and its Effects," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 53(n. 4), pages 1027-62, December.
    20. V. Joseph Hotz, 2003. "The Earned Income Tax Credit," NBER Chapters, in: Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, pages 141-198 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
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