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Progressive Income Taxes and the Substitution Effect of RRSPs

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Abstract

Within a progressive income-tax system, Registered Retirement Saving Plans (RRSPs) generate a substitution effect that decreases saving. The key point made here is that when an RRSP is introduced to a system that taxes capital income, the rate of return on marginal saving within the RRSP is driven to equality with the rate of return on non-RRSP saving. Since RRSP contributions redistribute taxable income across periods, they also have the effect of increasing future marginal income-tax rates, which lowers the after-tax return to saving. This result stands in contrast to the conventional view from the public finance literature.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher Ragan, 1994. "Progressive Income Taxes and the Substitution Effect of RRSPs," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 27(1), pages 43-57, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:27:y:1994:i:1:p:43-57
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    Cited by:

    1. Rydqvist, Kristian & Schwartz, Steven T. & Spizman, Joshua D., 2014. "The tax benefit of income smoothing," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 78-88.
    2. Milligan, Kevin, 2003. "How do contribution limits affect contributions to tax-preferred savings accounts?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 253-281, February.
    3. John Burbidge & Deborah Fretz & Michael R. Veall, 1998. "Canadian and American Saving Rates and the Role of RRSPs," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 24(2), pages 259-263, June.
    4. Rydqvist, Kristian & Schwartz, Steven & Spizman, Joshua, 2011. "The Tax Benefit of Income Smoothing," CEPR Discussion Papers 8425, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Bérubé, Gilles & Côté, Denise, 2000. "Long-Term Determinants of the Personal Savings Rate: Literature Review and Some Empirical Results for Canada," Staff Working Papers 00-3, Bank of Canada.
    6. Giuseppe Ruggieri & Maxime Fougère, 1997. "The effect of tax-based savings incentives on government revenue," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 18(2), pages 143-159, May.
    7. Hans Fehr & Christian Habermann & Fabian Kindermann, 2008. "Tax-Favored Retirement Accounts: Are they Efficient in Increasing Savings and Growth?," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 64(2), pages 171-198, June.

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