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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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Keywords: Top incomes; income inequality; personal income; tax-based data;

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  1. Nicole Watson & Mark Wooden, 2010. "The HILDA Survey: Progress and Future Developments," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 43(3), pages 326-336.
  2. Philip Armour & Richard V. Burkhauser & Jeff Larrimore, 2013. "Deconstructing Income and Income Inequality Measures: A Crosswalk from Market Income to Comprehensive Income," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 173-77, May.
  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.
  4. Anthony B. Atkinson & Andrew Leigh, 2007. "The Distribution of Top Incomes in Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 83(262), pages 247-261, 09.
  5. Anthony B. Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2009. "Top Incomes in the Long Run of History," NBER Working Papers 15408, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. James Poterba, 1993. "Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 7," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number pote93-1, octubre-d.
  7. 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.
  8. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "Income Inequality In The United States, 1913-1998," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 1-39, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Salvatore Morelli & Timothy Smeeding & Jeffrey Thompson, 2014. "Post-1970 Trends in Within-Country Inequality and Poverty: Rich and Middle Income Countries," CSEF Working Papers 356, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  2. Campos-Vazquez, Raymundo M. & Chavez, Emmanuel & Esquivel, Gerardo, 2013. "Growth is (really) good for the (really) rich," MPRA Paper 52488, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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