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Effective Taxation of Top Incomes in Germany

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  • Stefan Bach
  • Giacomo Corneo
  • Viktor Steiner

Abstract

We exploit an exhaustive administrative dataset that includes the individual tax returns of all households in the top percentile of the income distribution in Germany to pin down the effective income taxation of households with very high incomes. Taking tax base erosion into account, we find that the top percentile of the income distribution pays an effective average tax rate of 30.5 percent and contributes more than a quarter of total income tax revenue. Within the top percentile, the effective average tax rate is first increasing and then decreasing with income. Since the 1990s, effective average tax rates for the German super rich have fallen by about a third, with major reductions occurring in the wake of the personal income tax reform of 2001-2005. As a result, the concentration of net incomes at the very top of the distribution has strongly increased in Germany.
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Suggested Citation

  • Stefan Bach & Giacomo Corneo & Viktor Steiner, 2013. "Effective Taxation of Top Incomes in Germany," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 14(2), pages 115-137, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:germec:v:14:y:2013:i:2:p:115-137
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0475.2012.00570.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:pubeco:v:151:y:2017:i:c:p:41-55 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Katharina Jenderny, 2016. "Mobility of Top Incomes in Germany," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 62(2), pages 245-265, June.
    3. Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der Gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung (ed.), 2015. "Zukunftsfähigkeit in den Mittelpunkt. Jahresgutachten 2015/16," Annual Economic Reports / Jahresgutachten, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung, volume 127, number 201516, April.
    4. van Treeck, Till. & Sturn, Simon., 2012. "Income inequality as a cause of the Great Recession? : A survey of current debates," ILO Working Papers 994709343402676, International Labour Organization.
    5. Katja Rietzler & Dieter Teichmann & Achim Truger, 2013. "IMK Steuerschätzung 2013-2017," IMK Report 81-2013, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    6. repec:clr:wugarc:y:2011:v:37i:4p:513 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Doerrenberg, Philipp & Peichl, Andreas & Siegloch, Sebastian, 2014. "Sufficient Statistic or Not? The Elasticity of Taxable Income in the Presence of Deduction Possibilities," IZA Discussion Papers 8554, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Eckerstorfer, Paul & Steiner, Viktor & Wakolbinger, Florian, 2013. "Steuerreformvorschläge in der Diskussion: Eine Mikrosimulationsanalyse der Aufkommens-, Beschäftigungs- und Verteilungswirkungen für Österreich," Discussion Papers 2013/17, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    9. Christina Anselmann & Hagen M. Krämer, 2012. "Completing the Bathtub?: The Development of Top Incomes in Germany, 1907-2007," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 451, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    10. Viktor Steiner & Florian Wakolbinger, 2015. "Tax Reform 2015-16 and Bracket Creep 2010-2019. A Microsimulation Analysis for Austria," WIFO Monatsberichte (monthly reports), WIFO, vol. 88(5), pages 425-430, May.
    11. Späth Jochen & Schmid Kai Daniel, 2018. "The Distribution of Household Savings in Germany," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 238(1), pages 3-32, February.
    12. Bartels, Charlotte & Jenderny, Katharina, 2014. "The role of capital income for top incomes shares in Germany," Discussion Papers 2014/32, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    13. Corneo Giacomo, 2015. "Kreuz und quer durch die deutsche Einkommensverteilung," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 16(2), pages 109-126, June.
    14. Alfons J. Weichenrieder & Friedrich Schneider & Norbert Walter-Borjans & Michael Meister & Lukas Hakelberg & Thomas Rixen & Jörg R. Werner, 2016. "Panama Papers: Steueroasen im Visier – was ist noch legal, welche Mittel wirken gegen Missbrauch?," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 69(11), pages 03-20, June.
    15. repec:eee:eecrev:v:101:y:2018:i:c:p:1-19 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Wilfried Altzinger & Christopher Berka & Stefan Humer & Mathias Moser, 2012. "Die langfristige Entwicklung der Einkommenskonzentration in Österreich, 1957-2009," Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft - WuG, Kammer für Arbeiter und Angestellte für Wien, Abteilung Wirtschaftswissenschaft und Statistik, vol. 38(1), pages 77-102.
    17. Corneo, Giacomo, 2018. "Time-poor, working, super-rich," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 1-19.
    18. Andreas Peichl & Nico Pestel & Sebastian Siegloch, 2013. "Ist Deutschland wirklich so progressiv? Einkommensumverteilung im europäischen Vergleich," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 82(1), pages 111-127.
    19. Sarah Godar & Christoph Paetz & Achim Truger, 2015. "The scope for progressive tax reform in the OECD countries. A macroeconomic perspective with a case study for Germany," Revue de l'OFCE, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 0(5), pages 79-117.
    20. Stefan Bach, 2016. "Erbschaftsteuer, Vermögensteuer oder Kapitaleinkommensteuer: Wie sollen hohe Vermögen stärker besteuert werden?," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1619, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    21. Scharfenkamp Katrin, 2016. "It’s About Connections – How the Economic Network of the German Federal Government Affects the Top Earners’ Average Income Tax Rate," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 236(4), pages 427-453, August.
    22. Doerrenberg, Philipp & Peichl, Andreas & Siegloch, Sebastian, 2017. "The elasticity of taxable income in the presence of deduction possibilities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 151(C), pages 41-55.
    23. Claire Lebarz, 2015. "Income Inequality and Household Debt Distribution: A Cross-Country Analysis using Wealth Surveys," LWS Working papers 20, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution

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