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Does tax simplification yield more equity and efficiency? An empirical analysis for Germany

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  • Peichl, Andreas
  • Fuest, Clemens
  • Schaefer, Thilo

Abstract

This paper investigates the impact of tax simplification on various indicators of the efficiency of the tax system and on the distribution of income. The analysis is based on a simulation model (FiFoSiM) using German income tax and household survey microdata. We model tax simplification as the abolition of a set of deductions from the tax base included in the German income tax system. We find that this form of tax base simplification leads to a reduction in the use of professional tax advice, a more equitable income distribution and an increase in tax revenue. If these measures are combined with a reduction of income tax rates to preserve revenue neutrality, the effects depend on the type of rate schedule adjustment. The combination with a flat rate tax implies redistribution in favour of very high incomes, and an overall increase in income inequality. Efficiency effects in terms of changes in marginal tax rates and labor supply effects are mixed. The combination with a rate schedule adjustment which preserves the directly progressive rate schedule yields a tax reform which reduces the inequality of after tax incomes. We conclude that tax simplification may improve the efficiency of the tax system without increasing inequality of after tax income. --

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Cologne, FiFo Institute for Public Economics in its series FiFo Discussion Papers - Finanzwissenschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge with number 06-5.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:uoccpe:5147

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Keywords: Income distribution; polarisation; tax simplification; flat tax;

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References

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  1. repec:fth:stanho:e-90-11 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Peichl, Andreas & Fuest, Clemens & Schaefer, Thilo, 2006. "Führt Steuervereinfachung zu einer "gerechteren" Einkommensverteilung? Eine empirische Analyse für Deutschland," FiFo Discussion Papers - Finanzwissenschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge 06-1, University of Cologne, FiFo Institute for Public Economics.
  3. Peichl, Andreas, 2005. "Die Evaluation von Steuerreformen durch Simulationsmodelle," FiFo Discussion Papers - Finanzwissenschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge 05-1, University of Cologne, FiFo Institute for Public Economics.
  4. Gerhard Wagenhals, 2004. "Tax-benefit microsimulation models for Germany: A Survey," Diskussionspapiere aus dem Institut für Volkswirtschaftslehre der Universität Hohenheim 235/2004, Department of Economics, University of Hohenheim, Germany.
  5. Joel Slemrod, 1992. "Did the Tax Reform Act of 1986 Simplify Tax Matters?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 45-57, Winter.
  6. Esteban, J.M. & Ray, D., 1992. "On the Measurement of Polarization," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 171.92, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  7. Arthur van Soest, 1995. "Structural Models of Family Labor Supply: A Discrete Choice Approach," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(1), pages 63-88.
  8. Thomas MaCurdy & David Green & Harry Paarsch, 1990. "Assessing Empirical Approaches for Analyzing Taxes and Labor Supply," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(3), pages 415-490.
  9. Peichl, Andreas & Fuest, Clemens & Schaefer, Thilo, 2005. "Dokumentation FiFoSiM: Integriertes Steuer-Transfer-Mikrosimulations- und CGE-Modell," FiFo Discussion Papers - Finanzwissenschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge 05-3, University of Cologne, FiFo Institute for Public Economics.
  10. Gerhard Wagenhals, 2001. "Incentive and Redistribution Effects of the "Karlsruher Entwurf zur Reform des Einkommenssteuergesetzes"," Diskussionspapiere aus dem Institut für Volkswirtschaftslehre der Universität Hohenheim 194/2001, Department of Economics, University of Hohenheim, Germany.
  11. Franz W. Wagner, 2006. "Was bedeutet Steuervereinfachung wirklich?," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 7(1), pages 19-33, 02.
  12. Wolfson, Michael C, 1994. "When Inequalities Diverge," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 353-58, May.
  13. James J. Heckman, 1976. "The Common Structure of Statistical Models of Truncation, Sample Selection and Limited Dependent Variables and a Simple Estimator for Such Models," NBER Chapters, in: Annals of Economic and Social Measurement, Volume 5, number 4, pages 475-492 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Loeffler, Max & Peichl, Andreas & Pestel, Nico & Schneider, Hilmar & Siegloch, Sebastian, 2012. "Effizient, einfach und gerecht: Ein integriertes System zur Reform von Einkommensteuer und Sozialabgaben," IZA Standpunkte 49, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Hetzer, Nina & Peichl, Andreas, 2009. "Steuerstrukturreform trotz leerer Kassen?!," IZA Standpunkte 23, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Fuest, Clemens & Peichl, Andreas & Schaefer, Thilo, 2007. "Is a Flat Tax Feasible in a Grown-up Welfare State?," IZA Discussion Papers 3142, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Schaefer, Thilo & Peichl, Andreas, 2006. "Documentation FiFoSiM: integrated tax benefit microsimulation and CGE model," FiFo Discussion Papers - Finanzwissenschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge 06-10, University of Cologne, FiFo Institute for Public Economics.
  5. Peichl, Andreas & Schaefer, Thilo & Scheicher, Christoph, 2006. "Measuring Richness and Poverty," FiFo Discussion Papers - Finanzwissenschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge 06-11, University of Cologne, FiFo Institute for Public Economics.
  6. Schaefer, Thilo & Peichl, Andreas & Fuest, Clemens, 2007. "Is a Flat Tax politically feasible in a grown-up Welfare State?," FiFo Discussion Papers - Finanzwissenschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge 07-6, University of Cologne, FiFo Institute for Public Economics.

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