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Top Incomes and Top Taxes in Germany

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  • Stefan Bach
  • Giacomo Corneo
  • Viktor Steiner

Abstract

We analyze the distribution and taxation of top incomes in Germany during the 1990s on the basis of individual tax returns data. We derive a measure of economic income from taxable gross income as reported in the tax returns. Thanks to complete sampling, we can deliver a very precise description of very high incomes, in terms of both distribution and composition by source. We also provide a measure of the effective average rate of taxation for various income groups. Our main findings are as follows: (i) incomes are highly concentrated in Germany, more than commonly thought; (ii) the German economic elite relies much less than elites in France or the US upon income from wages and salaries; (iii) income taxes are highly concentrated in Germany, more than commonly thought; (iv) although effective tax rates are significantly lower than statutory ones, the income tax is effectively progressive; (v) income taxation substantially reduces income inequality in Germany.

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File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.43871.de/dp532.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research in its series Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin with number 532.

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Length: 30 p.
Date of creation: 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp532

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Keywords: Income distribution; Personal income tax; Taxing the rich;

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References

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  1. Fabien Dell, 2005. "Top Incomes in Germany and Switzerland Over the Twentieth Century," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 412-421, 04/05.
  2. Emmanuel Saez, 2004. "Reported Incomes and Marginal Tax Rates, 1960-2000: Evidence and Policy Implications," NBER Working Papers 10273, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Roine, Jesper & Vlachos, Jonas & Waldenström, Daniel, 2007. "What Determines Top Income Shares? Evidence from the Twentieth Century," Research Papers in Economics 2007:17, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  2. Fossen, Frank M. & Steiner, Viktor, 2006. "Income Taxes and Entrepreneurial Choice: Empirical Evidence from Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 2164, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Heijdra, Ben J. & Ligthart, Jenny E., 2010. "The Transitional Dynamics Of Fiscal Policy In Small Open Economies," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 14(01), pages 1-28, February.
  4. Stefan Bach & Giacomo Corneo & Viktor Steiner, 2007. "From Bottom to Top: The Entire Distribution of Market Income in Germany, 1992-2001," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 51, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  5. Jacob, Martin & Niemann, Rainer & Weiss, Martin, 2008. "The rich demystified: A reply to Bach, Corneo, and Steiner (2008)," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 58, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
  6. Alexandre Baclet & Fabien Dell & Katharina Wrohlich, 2005. "Income Taxation and Household Size: Would French Family Splitting Make German Families Better Off ?," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 542, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  7. Stefan Bach & Giacomo Corneo & Viktor Steiner, 2008. "Effective Taxation of Top Incomes in Germany, 1992 - 2002," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 767, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  8. Roine, Jesper & Vlachos, Jonas & Waldenström, Daniel, 2007. "The Long-run Determinants of Inequality: What Can We Learn from Top Income Data?," Working Paper Series 721, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 30 Apr 2008.
  9. Peter Haan, 2007. "Intertemporal Labor Supply Effects of Tax Reforms," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 669, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  10. Corneo, Giacomo, 2008. "Charity and redistributive taxation in a unionized economy," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 831-843, October.
  11. Horn-Chern Lin & Tao Zeng, 2010. "The distributional impact of income tax in Canada and China: 1997-2005," Journal of Chinese Economic and Foreign Trade Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 3(2), pages 132-145, June.
  12. Frank Fossen & Viktor Steiner, 2009. "Income taxes and entrepreneurial choice: empirical evidence from two German natural experiments," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 487-513, June.

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