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Do Taxpayers Bunch at Kink Points?

  • Emmanuel Saez

This paper uses tax return data to analyze bunching at the kink points of the US income tax schedule. We estimate the compensated elasticity of reported income with respect to (one minus) the marginal tax rate using bunching evidence. We find clear evidence of bunching around the first kink point of the Earned Income Tax Credit but concentrated solely among the self-employed. A simple tax evasion model can account for those results. We find evidence of bunching at the threshold of the first income tax bracket where tax liability starts but no evidence of bunching at any other kink point. (JEL H23, H24, H26)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/pol.2.3.180
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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aej/pol/data/2009-0060_data.zip
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

Volume (Year): 2 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 180-212

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:2:y:2010:i:3:p:180-212
Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.2.3.180
Contact details of provider: Web page: https://www.aeaweb.org/aej-policy
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  1. J. A. Mirrlees, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 175-208.
  2. Moffitt, Robert, 1990. "The Econometrics of Kinked Budget Constraints," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 119-39, Spring.
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  8. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "The Social Security Earnings Test and Labor Supply of Older Men," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 12, pages 121-150 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Jeffrey B. Liebman, 1998. "The Impact of the Earned Income Tax Credit on Incentives and Income Distribution," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 12, pages 83-120 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. LaLumia, Sara, 2009. "The Earned Income Tax Credit and Reported Self-Employment Income," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 62(2), pages 191-217, June.
  12. Aaron S. Yelowitz, 1995. "The Medicaid Notch, Labor Supply, and Welfare Participation: Evidence from Eligibility Expansions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(4), pages 909-939.
  13. 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.
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  15. 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.
  16. David Card & Richard Blundell & Richard B. Freeman, 2004. "Seeking a Premier Economy: The Economic Effects of British Economic Reforms, 1980-2000," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number card04-1, September.
  17. Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "Do Taxpayers Bunch at Kink Points?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 180-212, August.
  18. Leora Friedberg, 2000. "The Labor Supply Effects of the Social Security Earnings Test," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(1), pages 48-63, February.
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  22. Moffitt, Robert, 1986. "The Econometrics of Piecewise-Linear Budget Constraints: A Survey and Exposition of the Maximum Likelihood Method," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 4(3), pages 317-28, July.
  23. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Tore Olsen & Luigi Pistaferri, 2010. "Adjustment Costs, Firm Responses, and Labor Supply Elasticities: Evidence from Danish Tax Records," CAM Working Papers 2010-03, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics.
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