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Behavioral Responses to Tax Rates: Evidence from TRA86

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  • Martin Feldstein

Abstract

This paper uses the experience after the Tax Reform Act of 1986 to examine how taxes affect three aspects of individual taxpayer behavior: labor supply, total taxable income, and capital gains. The substantial sensitivity of married women's labor supply implies that the efficiency of the tax system could be increased significantly by reducing the marginal tax rates of these women relative to their husbands' marginal tax rates. More generally, the sensitivity of taxable income to the net of tax share implies that lower marginal tax rates would involve much less revenue loss than is traditionally assumed and would bring a much more substantial reduction in the deadweight loss of the tax system. The sharp fall in the real value of realized capital gains since the 1986 rise in tax rates on capital gains confirms earlier research indicating the substantial sensitivity of capital gains realizations to tax rates. A comparison with projections by the Treasury and Congressional Budget Office made in 1988 shows that the current official model greatly understates the sensitivity of capital gains to tax rates.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5000.

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Date of creation: Jan 1995
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5000

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  1. Burman, Leonard E & Randolph, William C, 1994. "Measuring Permanent Responses to Capital-Gains Tax Changes in Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 794-809, September.
  2. Heckman, James J, 1993. "What Has Been Learned about Labor Supply in the Past Twenty Years?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 116-21, May.
  3. Hausman, Jerry & Ruud, Paul, 1984. "Family Labor Supply with Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 242-48, May.
  4. Thomas Mroz, . "The Sensitivity of an Empirical Model of Married Women's Hours of Work to Economic and Statistical Assumptions," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 84-8, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  5. Barry Bosworth & Gary Burtless, 1992. "Effects of Tax Reform on Labor Supply, Investment, and Saving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 3-25, Winter.
  6. MaCurdy, Thomas, 1992. "Work Disincentive Effects of Taxes: A Reexamination of Some Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 243-49, May.
  7. Martin Feldstein, 1995. "Tax Avoidance and the Deadweight Loss of the Income Tax," NBER Working Papers 5055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Feldstein, Martin & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1978. "The effects of the capital gains tax on the selling and switching of common stock," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 17-36, February.
  9. Robert K. Triest, 1990. "The Effect of Income Taxation on Labor Supply in the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(3), pages 491-516.
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Cited by:
  1. Martin Feldstein, 1997. "The Missing Piece in Policy Analysis: Social Security Reform," NBER Working Papers 5413, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Blomquist, Sören & Simula, Laurent, 2010. "Marginal Deadweight Loss when the Income Tax is Nonlinear," Working Paper Series 2010:3, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  3. Esteller-Moré, Álex & Solé-Ollé, Albert, 1999. "Vertical income tax externalities and fiscal interdependence: evidence from the US," ZEW Discussion Papers 99-28, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  4. Del Negro, Marco & Perri, Fabrizio & Schivardi, Fabiano, 2010. "Tax buyouts," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(5), pages 576-595, July.
    • Marco Del Negro & Fabrizio Perri & Fabiano Schivardi, 2010. "Tax buyouts," NBER Working Papers 15847, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Marco Del Negro & Fabrizio Perri & Fabiano Schivardi, 2010. "Tax Buyouts," EIEF Working Papers Series 1007, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Mar 2010.
    • Marco Del Negro & Fabrizio Perri & Fabiano Schivardi, 2010. "Tax buyouts," Staff Reports 467, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    • Marco Del Negro & Fabrizio Perri & Fabiano Schivardi, 2010. "Tax buyouts," Staff Report 441, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  5. Martin Feldstein & Daniel Feenberg, 1996. "The Effect of Increased Tax Rates on Taxable Income and Economic Efficiency: A Preliminary Analysis of the 1993 Tax Rate Increases," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 10, pages 89-118 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Bull, Nicholas & Lindsey, Lawrence B., 1996. "Monetary Implications of Tax Reforms," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 49(3), pages 359-79, September.

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