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Measuring Top Incomes Using Tax Record Data: A Cautionary Tale from Australia

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  • Richard V. Burkhauser

    ()
    (Department of Policy Analysis and Management, Cornell University; and Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne)

  • Markus H. Hahn

    ()
    (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne)

  • Roger Wilkins

    ()
    (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne)

Abstract

Atkinson, Piketty, and Saez (2011) survey an important new literature using income taxbased data to measure the share of income held by top income groups. But changes in tax legislation that expand the tax base to include income sources (e.g. capital gains, dividends, etc.) disproportionately held by these groups will conflate such an expansion with an increase in the share of income they hold. We provide a cautionary tale from Australia of how comprehensive tax reform legislation in 1985 substantially altered Australian top income series, especially those that do not separate taxable realized capital gains from other taxable income.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne in its series Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series with number wp2013n24.

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Length: 72pp
Date of creation: Jun 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iae:iaewps:wp2013n24

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Postal: Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010 Australia
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Keywords: Top incomes; income inequality; personal income; tax-based data;

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  1. Burkhauser, Richard V. & Larrimore, Jeff & Simon, Kosali I., 2012. "A "Second Opinion" On The Economic Health Of The American Middle Class," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 65(1), pages 7-32, March Cit.
  2. A.B. Atkinson & Andrew Leigh, 2006. "The Distribution of Top Incomes in Australia," CEPR Discussion Papers 514, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  3. Mark Wooden & Nicole Watson, 2007. "The HILDA Survey and its Contribution to Economic and Social Research (So Far)," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 83(261), pages 208-231, 06.
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Cited by:
  1. Raymundo M. Campos-Vazquez & Emmanuel Chavez & Gerardo Esquivel, 2013. "Growth is (really) good for the (really) rich," Serie documentos de trabajo del Centro de Estudios Económicos 2013-09, El Colegio de México, Centro de Estudios Económicos.

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