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Regression Estimates of the Elasticity of Taxable Income and the Choice of Instrument

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  • Simon Carey
  • John Creedy
  • Norman Gemmell
  • Josh Teng

    ()
    (The Treasury)

Abstract

This paper examines estimation of the elasticity of taxable income using instrumental variable regression methods. It is argued that the standard instrument for the net-of-tax rate - the rate that would be applicable post-reform but with unchanged income levels - is unsatisfactory in contexts where there are substantial exogenous changes in taxable income. Two alternative tax rate instruments are proposed, using estimates of the dynamics of taxable income for a panel of taxpayers over a period that involves no tax changes. The parameters derived from this procedure are then used to construct counterfactual post-reform incomes that would be expected in the absence of reform. The first method is based on the tax rate each individual would face if income were equal to expected income, conditional on income in two periods before the tax change. The second alternative uses the form of the conditional distribution of income for each taxpayer to obtain an instrument based on the expected tax rate. The methods are applied to the tax change in New Zealand in 2001. It is found that the proposed new instruments significantly outperform the standard instrument, in particular there are substantial improvements using the expected tax rate.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by New Zealand Treasury in its series Treasury Working Paper Series with number 13/08.

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Length: 28
Date of creation: Apr 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nzt:nztwps:13/08

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Keywords: Income taxation; taxable income; elasticity of taxable income; instrumental variables; tax rate instruments.;

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  1. Blomquist, Sören & Selin, Håkan, 2008. "Hourly Wage Rate and Taxable Labor Income Responsiveness to Changes in Marginal Tax Rates," Working Paper Series 2008:16, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  2. Claus, Iris & Creedy, John & Teng, Josh, 2012. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income in New Zealand," Working Paper Series 2427, Victoria University of Wellington, Chair in Public Finance.
  3. Robert A Moffitt & Mark Wilhelm, 2000. "Taxation and the Labor Supply - Decisions of the Affluent," Economics Working Paper Archive 414, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  4. Aarbu, Karl O. & Thoresen, Thor O., 2001. "Income Responses to Tax Changes--Evidence from the Norwegian Tax Reform," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 54(n. 2), pages 319-38, June.
  5. Austan Goolsbee, 2000. "What Happens When You Tax the Rich? Evidence from Executive Compensation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(2), pages 352-378, April.
  6. Peter A. Diamond & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "The Case for a Progressive Tax: From Basic Research to Policy Recommendations," CESifo Working Paper Series 3548, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Kopczuk, Wojciech, 2005. "Tax bases, tax rates and the elasticity of reported income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(11-12), pages 2093-2119, December.
  8. Austan Goolsbee, 1999. "Evidence on the High-Income Laffer Curve from Six Decades of Tax Reform," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 30(2), pages 1-64.
  9. Saez, Emmanuel, 2003. "The effect of marginal tax rates on income: a panel study of 'bracket creep'," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(5-6), pages 1231-1258, May.
  10. Emmanuel Saez & Joel B. Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2009. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review," NBER Working Papers 15012, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Jon Gruber & Emmanuel Saez, 2000. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income: Evidence and Implications," NBER Working Papers 7512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Hansson, Åsa, 2004. "Taxpayers Responsiveness to Tax Rate Changes and Implications for the Cost of Taxation," Working Papers 2004:5, Lund University, Department of Economics.
  13. repec:taf:regstd:v:46:y:2012:i:2:p:159-167 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Martin Feldstein, 1997. "The Effect of Marginal Tax Rates on Taxable Income: A Panel Study of the1986 Tax Reform Act," NBER Working Papers 4496, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Bradley T. Heim, 2009. "The effect of recent tax changes on taxable income: Evidence from a new panel of tax returns," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(1), pages 147-163.
  16. Koen Caminada & Kees Goudswaard, 1996. "Progression and revenue effects of income tax reform," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 57-66, January.
  17. Giertz, Seth, 2004. "Recent Literature on Taxable-Income Elasticities," MPRA Paper 16159, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  18. Seth H. Giertz, 2010. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income during the 1990s: New Estimates and Sensitivity Analyses," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 406-433, October.
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