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Progressivity of Capital Gains Taxation with Optimal Portfolio Selection

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  • Michael Haliassos
  • Andrew B. Lyon

Abstract

We provide new data on capital gains realizations using a five-year stratified panel of taxpayers covering 1985-1989. We find, as earlier studies have, that capital gains realizations are very concentrated among the highest income groups. We use these data and data from the Federal Reserve Board Survey of Consumer Finances to draw inferences from a simulation model of the effects on progressivity and efficiency of alternative tax treatment of capital gains. Tax payments alone are not an accurate indication of the burden of a tax. Taxes generally create costs beyond the dollar value collected by causing persons to change their behavior to avoid the tax. Risk is also affected by the tax system. Beneficial risk-sharing characteristics of the tax system are frequently overlooked when examining the treatment of capital gains, We find that reforms comprising reductions in the capital gains tax rate offset by increases in the tax rate on other investment income are efficiency reducing. Surprisingly, we find that for taxpayers for whom loss limits are not binding a switch to accrual taxation is also efficiency reducing. For those taxpayers for whom loss limits are potentially binding, we find that large efficiency gains can be achieved by increasing the amount of capital losses that may be deducted against ordinary income. These results are partly attributable to changes in risk-sharing encompassed in these reforms.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4253.

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Date of creation: Jan 1993
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4253

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  1. Miles S. Kimball, 1991. "Standard Risk Aversion," NBER Technical Working Papers 0099, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. James M. Poterba, 1988. "How Burdensome are Capital Gains Taxes?," NBER Working Papers 1871, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  4. Epstein, Larry G & Zin, Stanley E, 1991. "Substitution, Risk Aversion, and the Temporal Behavior of Consumption and Asset Returns: An Empirical Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(2), pages 263-86, April.
  5. Roger H. Gordon & Hal R. Varian, 1985. "Intergenerational Risk Sharing," NBER Working Papers 1730, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Robert E. Hall, 1987. "Consumption," NBER Working Papers 2265, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. R. Mehra & E. Prescott, 2010. "The equity premium: a puzzle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1401, David K. Levine.
  8. Joel B. Slemrod, 1992. "Taxation and Inequality: A Time-Exposure Perspective," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 6, pages 105-128 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1983. "Some aspects of the taxation of capital gains," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 257-294, July.
  10. Shaw, Kathryn L, 1996. "An Empirical Analysis of Risk Aversion and Income Growth," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(4), pages 626-53, October.
  11. Shmuel Kandel & Robert F. Stambaugh, 1991. "Asset Returns and Intertemporal Preferences," NBER Working Papers 3633, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Hendershott, Patric H. & Toder, Eric J. & Won, Yunhi, 1991. "Effects of Capital Gains Taxes on Revenue and Economic Efficiency," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 44(1), pages 21-40, March Cit.
  13. Uzi Segal & Avia Spivak, 1988. "First Order Versus Second Order Risk Aversion," UCLA Economics Working Papers 540, UCLA Department of Economics.
  14. Joel Slemrod, 1981. "A General Equilibrium Model of Taxation with Endogenous Financial Behavior," NBER Working Papers 0799, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Haliassos, Michael & Bertaut, Carol C, 1995. "Why Do So Few Hold Stocks?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(432), pages 1110-29, September.
  16. Alan J. Auerbach, 1992. "On the Design and Reform of Capital Gains Taxation," NBER Working Papers 3967, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. George M. Constantinides, 1984. "Optimal Stock Trading with Personal Taxes: Implications for Prices and the Abnormal January Returns," NBER Working Papers 1176, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. James B. Davies, 1995. "Distributional Effects of the Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption: Single vs. Multi-Year Analysis," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 21(s1), pages 159-173, November.
  2. Carol C. Bertaut & Michael Haliassos, 1996. "Precautionary portfolio behavior from a life-cycle perspective," International Finance Discussion Papers 542, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. William Gale & Peter Orszag, 2005. "Economic Effects of Making the 2001 and 2003 Tax Cuts Permanent," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 193-232, March.
  4. Carol C. Bertaut, 1996. "Stockholding behavior of U.S. households: evidence from the 1983-89 Survey of Consumer Finances," International Finance Discussion Papers 558, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. Elizabeth M. Caucutt & Selahattin Imrohoroglu & Krishna B. Kumar, 2003. "Growth and Welfare Analysis of Tax Progressivity in a Heterogeneous-Agent Model," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(3), pages 546-577, July.
  6. Vijay M. Jog, 1995. "The Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption: Corporate Financing, Risk-taking and Allocation Efficiency," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 21(s1), pages 116-135, November.

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