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Taxpayer Search for Information: Implications for Rational Attention

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  • Jeffrey L. Hoopes
  • Daniel H. Reck
  • Joel Slemrod

Abstract

We examine data on capital-gains-tax-related information search to determine when and how taxpayers acquire information. We find seasonal increases in information search around tax deadlines, suggesting that taxpayers seek information to comply with tax law. Positive correlations between stock market activity and search as well as year-end spikes in information search on capital losses when the market performs poorly suggest that taxpayers seek information for tax planning purposes. Policy changes and news events cause information search. These data suggest that taxpayers are not always fully informed, but that rational attention and exogenous shocks to tax salience drive taxpayer information search. (JEL D12, D83, H24, H31, K34)

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey L. Hoopes & Daniel H. Reck & Joel Slemrod, 2015. "Taxpayer Search for Information: Implications for Rational Attention," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 177-208, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:7:y:2015:i:3:p:177-208
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.20140050
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Keppo, Jussi & Moscarini, Giuseppe & Smith, Lones, 2008. "The demand for information: More heat than light," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 138(1), pages 21-50, January.
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    7. Michael S. Drake & Darren T. Roulstone & Jacob R. Thornock, 2012. "Investor Information Demand: Evidence from Google Searches Around Earnings Announcements," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(4), pages 1001-1040, September.
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    9. Jonah B. Gelbach & Eric Helland & Jonathan Klick, 2013. "Valid Inference in Single-Firm, Single-Event Studies," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(2), pages 495-541.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Alexander M. Gelber & Damon Jones & Daniel W. Sacks, 2013. "Earnings Adjustment Frictions: Evidence From Social Security Earnings Test," Working Papers 13-50, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    2. Jeffrey Hoopes & Patrick Langetieg & Stefan Nagel & Daniel Reck & Joel Slemrod & Bryan Stuart, 2016. "Who Sold During the Crash of 2008-9? Evidence from Tax-Return Data on Daily Sales of Stock," NBER Working Papers 22209, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Alexander M. Gelber & Damon Jones & Daniel W. Sacks, 2013. "Estimating Earnings Adjustment Frictions: Method and Evidence from the Social Security Earnings Test," NBER Working Papers 19491, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Sommer, Eric, 2017. "Wealth Transfers and Tax Planning: Evidence for the German Bequest Tax," IZA Discussion Papers 11120, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Eichfelder, Sebastian & Lau, Mona, 2015. "Capitalization of capital gains taxes: (In)attention and turn-of-the-year returns," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 195, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    6. repec:eee:pubeco:v:149:y:2017:i:c:p:1-19 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:eee:pubeco:v:158:y:2018:i:c:p:180-193 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Youssef Benzarti, 2017. "How Taxing Is Tax Filing? Using Revealed Preferences to Estimate Compliance Costs," NBER Working Papers 23903, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Eichfelder, Sebastian & Lau, Mona, 2015. "Capitalization of capital gains taxes: (In)attention and turn-of-the-year returns," Discussion Papers 2015/33, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    10. Jonathan D. Hall & Craig Palsson & Joseph Price, 2017. "Is Uber a substitute or complement for public transit?," Working Papers tecipa-585, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    11. Slemrod, Joel & Collins, Brett & Hoopes, Jeffrey L. & Reck, Daniel & Sebastiani, Michael, 2017. "Does credit-card information reporting improve small-business tax compliance?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 1-19.
    12. Salim Nuhu Ahmed & John M. Musah, 2018. "On asymmetric information and tax morale in developing countries," WIDER Working Paper Series 012, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    13. Sebastian Eichfelder & Mona Lau, 2015. "Capitalization of capital gains taxes: (In)attention and turn-of-the-year returns," FEMM Working Papers 150019, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Faculty of Economics and Management.
    14. Eric Zwick, 2018. "The Costs of Corporate Tax Complexity," NBER Working Papers 24382, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • K34 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Tax Law

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