IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Is the Taxable Income Elasticity Sufficient to Calculate Deadweight Loss? The Implications of Evasion and Avoidance

  • Raj Chetty

Martin Feldstein's (1999) widely used taxable income formula for deadweight loss assumes the marginal social cost of evasion and avoidance equals the tax rate. This condition is likely to be violated in practice for two reasons. First, some of the costs of evasion and avoidance are transfers to other agents. Second, some individuals overestimate the costs of evasion and avoidance. In such situations, excess burden depends on a weighted average of the taxable income and total earned income elasticities, with the weight determined by the resource cost of sheltering income from taxation. This generalized formula implies the efficiency cost of taxing high income individuals is not necessarily large despite evidence that their reported incomes are highly sensitive to marginal tax rates. (JEL H21, H24, H26)

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

Volume (Year): 1 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (August)
Pages: 31-52

in new window

Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:1:y:2009:i:2:p:31-52
Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.1.2.31
Contact details of provider: Web page:

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Joel Slemrod, 2007. "Cheating Ourselves: The Economics of Tax Evasion," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(1), pages 25-48, Winter.
  2. Adam Looney & Monica Singhal, 2005. "The effect of anticipated tax changes on intertemporal labor supply and the realization of taxable income," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2005-44, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Gorodnichenko, Yuriy & Martinez-Vazquez, Jorge & Peter, Klara Sabirianova, 2007. "Myth and Reality of Flat Tax Reform: Micro Estimates of Tax Evasion Response and Welfare Effects in Russia," IZA Discussion Papers 3267, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Joel Slemrod & Shlomo Yitzhaki, 2000. "Tax Avoidance, Evasion, and Administration," NBER Working Papers 7473, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Slemrod, Joel, 1998. "Methodological Issues in Measuring and Interpreting Taxable Income Elasticities," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 51(n. 4), pages 773-88, December.
  6. Roger H. Gordon & Joel Slemrod, 1998. "Are "Real" Responses to Taxes Simply Income Shifting Between Corporate and Personal Tax Bases?," NBER Working Papers 6576, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Austan Goolsbee, 1997. "What Happens When You Tax the Rich? Evidence from Executive Compensation," NBER Working Papers 6333, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Martin Feldstein, 2006. "The Effect of Taxes on Efficiency and Growth," NBER Working Papers 12201, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Dahlby, Bev, 1998. "Progressive taxation and the social marginal cost of public funds," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 105-122, January.
  10. Jon Gruber & Emmanuel Saez, 2000. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income: Evidence and Implications," NBER Working Papers 7512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Joel Slemrod, 2001. "A General Model of the Behavioral Response to Taxation," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 119-128, March.
  12. Chetty, Nadarajan, 2009. "Sufficient Statistics for Welfare Analysis: A Bridge Between Structural and Reduced-Form Methods," Scholarly Articles 9748528, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  13. Kaplow, Louis, 1990. "Optimal taxation with costly enforcement and evasion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 221-236, November.
  14. Martin Feldstein, 1995. "Tax Avoidance and the Deadweight Loss of the Income Tax," NBER Working Papers 5055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Feldstein, Martin, 1995. "Effect of Marginal Tax Rates on Taxable Income: A Panel Study of the 1986 Tax Reform Act," Scholarly Articles 2766676, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  16. Charles T. Clotfelter, 1985. "Federal Tax Policy and Charitable Giving," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number clot85-1, July.
  17. 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.
  18. Pissarides, Christopher A. & Weber, Guglielmo, 1989. "An expenditure-based estimate of Britain's black economy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 17-32, June.
  19. Clotfelter, Charles T., 1985. "Federal Tax Policy and Charitable Giving," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226110486, March.
  20. Slemrod, Joel, 1992. "Do Taxes Matter? Lessons from the 1980's," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 250-56, May.
  21. Slemrod, Joel, 1995. "Income Creation or Income Shifting? Behavioral Responses to the Tax Reform Act of 1986," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 175-80, May.
  22. Feldstein, Martin S & Taylor, Amy, 1976. "The Income Tax and Charitable Contributions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(6), pages 1201-22, November.
  23. Feldstein, Martin, 1995. "The Effect of Marginal Tax Rates on Taxable Income: A Panel Study of the 1986 Tax Reform Act," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 551-72, June.
  24. Clotfelter, Charles T, 1983. "Tax Evasion and Tax Rates: An Analysis of Individual Returns," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(3), pages 363-73, August.
  25. Mayshar, Joram, 1991. " Taxation with Costly Administration," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 93(1), pages 75-88.
  26. Allingham, Michael G. & Sandmo, Agnar, 1972. "Income tax evasion: a theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3-4), pages 323-338, November.
  27. Lindsey, Lawrence B., 1987. "Individual taxpayer response to tax cuts: 1982-1984 : With implications for the revenue maximizing tax rate," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 173-206, July.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:1:y:2009:i:2:p:31-52. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros)

or (Michael P. Albert)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.