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Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: Cigarette Tax Salience and Regressivity

Author

Listed:
  • Jacob Goldin
  • Tatiana Homonoff

Abstract

Recent evidence suggests consumers pay less attention to commodity taxes levied at the register than to taxes included in a good's posted price. If this attention gap is larger for high-income consumers than for low-income consumers, policymakers can manipulate a tax's regressivity by altering the fraction of the tax imposed at the register. We investigate income differences in attentiveness to cigarette taxes, exploiting state and time variation in cigarette excise and sales tax rates. Whereas all consumers respond to taxes that appear in cigarettes' posted price, our results suggest that only low-income consumers respond to taxes levied at the register. (JEL D12, H22, H25, H71, L66)

Suggested Citation

  • Jacob Goldin & Tatiana Homonoff, 2013. "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: Cigarette Tax Salience and Regressivity," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 302-336, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:5:y:2013:i:1:p:302-36
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.5.1.302
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel John Zizzo & Melanie Parravano & Ryota Nakamura & Suzanna Forwood & Marc Suhrcke, 2016. "The impact of taxation and signposting on diet: an online field study with breakfast cereals and soft drinks," Working Papers 131cherp, Centre for Health Economics, University of York.
    2. Hunt Allcott & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2015. "Evaluating Behaviorally Motivated Policy: Experimental Evidence from the Lightbulb Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(8), pages 2501-2538, August.
    3. Iñigo Iturbe-Ormaetxe Kortajarene, 2011. "Visibility of social security contributions and employment," Working Papers. Serie AD 2011-16, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
    4. Itzik Fadlon & Torben Heien Nielsen, 2017. "Family Health Behaviors," NBER Working Papers 24042, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Rivers, Nicholas & Schaufele, Brandon, 2015. "Salience of carbon taxes in the gasoline market," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 23-36.
    6. Michael F. Pesko & John A. Tauras & Jidong Huang & Frank J. Chaloupka, IV, 2016. "The Influence of Geography and Measurement in Estimating Cigarette Price Responsiveness," NBER Working Papers 22296, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Hunt Allcott & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2013. "The Lightbulb Paradox: Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments," NBER Working Papers 19713, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Duquette, Nicolas J., 2016. "Do tax incentives affect charitable contributions? Evidence from public charities' reported revenues," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 51-69.
    9. Iñigo Iturbe-Ormaetxe, 2015. "Salience of social security contributions and employment," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 22(5), pages 741-759, October.
    10. Johannes Abeler & Simon Jäger, 2013. "Complex Tax Incentives - An Experimental Investigation," CESifo Working Paper Series 4231, CESifo Group Munich.
    11. Naomi E. Feldman & Bradley J. Ruffle, 2012. "The impact of tax exclusive and inclusive prices on demand," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2012-50, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    12. Blaufus, Kay & Milde, Michael, 2018. "Learning to save tax-efficiently: Tax misperceptions and the effect of informational tax nudges on retirement savings," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 225, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    13. Alex Rees-Jones & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2017. "Taxing Humans: Pitfalls of the Mechanism Design Approach and Potential Resolutions," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 32 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Goldin, Jacob, 2015. "Optimal tax salience," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 115-123.
    15. Rebecca K Scott, 2014. "Tax Salience vs. Price Uncertainty: Disentangling the Effects of Attention and Rational Habits," Economics Series Working Papers 736, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    16. Tiezzi, Silvia & Verde, Stefano F., 2016. "Differential demand response to gasoline taxes and gasoline prices in the U.S," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 71-91.
    17. Benjamin B. Lockwood & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2017. "Regressive Sin Taxes," NBER Working Papers 23085, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Spears, Dean, 2014. "Decision costs and price sensitivity: Field experimental evidence from India," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 169-184.
    19. Wilson, Norbert L. W. & Zheng, Yuqing & Burney, Shaheer & Kaiser, Harry M., 2016. "Do Grocery Food Sales Taxes Cause Food Insecurity?," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 235324, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    20. Sébastien Houde & Joseph E. Aldy, 2017. "The Efficiency Consequences of Heterogeneous Behavioral Responses to Energy Fiscal Policies," NBER Working Papers 24103, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Eric Zwick, 2018. "The Costs of Corporate Tax Complexity," NBER Working Papers 24382, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. repec:pal:easeco:v:43:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1057_s41302-016-0010-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. Nicholas Rivers & Brandon Schaufele, 2012. "Carbon Tax Salience and Gasoline Demand," Working Papers 1211E, University of Ottawa, Department of Economics.
    24. John Yinger & Phuong Nguyen-Hoang, 2015. "The Behavioral Impacts of Poverty Tax Relief: Salience or Framing?," Center for Policy Research Working Papers 186, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • L66 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Food; Beverages; Cosmetics; Tobacco

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    1. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: Cigarette Tax Salience and Regressivity (AEJ:EP 2013) in ReplicationWiki

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