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Tax bunching, income shifting and self-employment

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  • le Maire, Daniel
  • Schjerning, Bertel

Abstract

This paper proposes a dynamic extension to Saez (2010) bunching formula that allows us to distinguish bunching based on real responses and income shifting. We provide direct evidence of income shifting and pronounced bunching in taxable income for the Danish self-employed. If income shifting was neglected in this case, we would estimate a taxable income elasticity in the range of 0.43–0.53 and conclude that taxable incomes were highly sensitive to changes in marginal tax rates. We show, however, that more than half of the bunching in taxable income is driven by intertemporal income shifting, implying a structural elasticity of 0.14–0.20.

Suggested Citation

  • le Maire, Daniel & Schjerning, Bertel, 2013. "Tax bunching, income shifting and self-employment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 1-18.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:107:y:2013:i:c:p:1-18
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2013.08.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Martin Feldstein, 1999. "Tax Avoidance And The Deadweight Loss Of The Income Tax," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 674-680, November.
    2. Emmanuel Saez & Joel Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2012. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(1), pages 3-50, March.
    3. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Tore Olsen & Luigi Pistaferri, 2011. "Adjustment Costs, Firm Responses, and Micro vs. Macro Labor Supply Elasticities: Evidence from Danish Tax Records," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 749-804.
    4. Joel Slemrod, 1996. "High-Income Families and the Tax Changes of the 1980s: The Anatomy of Behavioral Response," NBER Chapters,in: Empirical Foundations of Household Taxation, pages 169-192 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Martin B. Knudsen & Claus Thustrup Kreiner & Søren Pedersen & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "Unwilling or Unable to Cheat? Evidence From a Tax Audit Experiment in Denmark," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(3), pages 651-692, May.
    6. Bastani, Spencer & Selin, Håkan, 2014. "Bunching and non-bunching at kink points of the Swedish tax schedule," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 36-49.
    7. Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "Do Taxpayers Bunch at Kink Points?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 180-212, August.
    8. Henrik J. Kleven & Mazhar Waseem, 2013. "Using Notches to Uncover Optimization Frictions and Structural Elasticities: Theory and Evidence from Pakistan," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(2), pages 669-723.
    9. 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.
    10. Feldstein, Martin, 1995. "Effect of Marginal Tax Rates on Taxable Income: A Panel Study of the 1986 Tax Reform Act," Scholarly Articles 2766676, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    11. Joel Slemrod, 2007. "Cheating Ourselves: The Economics of Tax Evasion," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(1), pages 25-48, Winter.
    12. Feldstein, Martin, 1995. "The Effect of Marginal Tax Rates on Taxable Income: A Panel Study of the 1986 Tax Reform Act," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 551-572, June.
    13. Slemrod, Joel, 1994. "Fixing the leak in Okun's bucket optimal tax progressivity when avoidance can be controlled," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 41-51, September.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Self-employment; Tax bunching; Retained profits; Tax avoidance; Income shifting;

    JEL classification:

    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General

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