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Do up-front tax incentives affect private pension saving in the United Kingdom?

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  • Rowena Crawford

    ()
    (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

  • Richard Disney

    ()
    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Nottingham)

  • Carl Emmerson

    ()
    (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

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    Abstract

    The paper examines how individuals respond to complex decision-making environments – in particular, whether up-front financial incentives are an effective policy lever to change behaviour. The paper argues that incentives differ in their transparency and in their complexity; individuals are more likely to respond to incentives that are both transparent and imply a large pay-off in terms of net income. The paper focuses on household ‘tax planning’ in the context of tax reliefs for retirement saving in the United Kingdom. It examines whether take-up of retirement saving instruments increases at the higher rate threshold for income tax, since tax relief is given at the marginal tax rate and should be more attractive to those just above this threshold than to those just below it. It then examines a more complex case where the tax system provides an incentive for pension saving to do be done by one member of a couple. Econometric results are obtained from the Family Resources Survey on these two tests of household responses to complex incentives.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W12/05.

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    Date of creation: Mar 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:12/05

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    1. Richard Blundell & Alan Duncan & Costas Meghir, 1995. "Estimating labour supply responses using tax reforms," IFS Working Papers W95/07, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    2. Kevin Milligan, 2000. "How Do Contribution Limits Affect Contributions to Tax-Preferred Savings Accounts?," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 27, McMaster University.
    3. Orazio P. Attanasio & Thomas DeLeire, 2002. "The Effect Of Individual Retirement Accounts On Household Consumption And National Saving," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(6), pages 504-538, July.
    4. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2009. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1145-77, September.
    5. Engen, Eric & Gale, William & Uccello, Cori, 1999. "The Adequacy of Household Saving," MPRA Paper 56442, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Woojin Chung & Richard Disney & Carl Emmerson & Matthew Wakefield, . "Public policy and retirement saving incentives in the UK," Discussion Papers 06/03, University of Nottingham, Centre for Finance, Credit and Macroeconomics (CFCM).
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