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The effects of joint taxation of married couples on labor supply and non-wage income

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  • LaLumia, Sara

Abstract

The United States changed its tax treatment of married couples in 1948, from a system in which each spouse paid taxes on his or her own income to a system in which a married couple is taxed as a unit. The switch from separate to joint taxation changed incentives for labor supply and asset ownership. This paper investigates the effects of the conversion to joint taxation, taking advantage of a natural experiment created by cross-state variation in property laws. Married individuals in states with community property laws had always been taxed as if each spouse had earned half of the couple's income, and thus were unaffected by the 1948 legal change. Comparing the behavior of highly-educated taxpayers in affected and unaffected states indicates that the tax change is associated with a decline of approximately 2 percentage points in the employment rate of married women, consistent with the higher first-dollar tax rates they faced after 1948. Women married to self-employed men were also less likely to have non-wage income after 1948, reflecting pre-1948 allocation of family assets to wives for tax purposes. The effects of joint taxation on married men's labor force participation and non-wage income holding are generally not statistically significant.

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  • LaLumia, Sara, 2008. "The effects of joint taxation of married couples on labor supply and non-wage income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(7), pages 1698-1719, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:92:y:2008:i:7:p:1698-1719
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    Cited by:

    1. Clément Carbonnier, 2014. "The influence of taxes on employment of married women, evidence from the French joint income tax system," Sciences Po publications 23, Sciences Po.
    2. Thomas F. Crossley & Sung-Hee Jeon, 2007. "Joint Taxation and the Labour Supply of Married Women: Evidence from the Canadian Tax Reform of 1988," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 28(3), pages 343-365, September.
    3. Gawande, Kishore & Jenkins-Smith, Hank & Yuan, May, 2013. "The long-run impact of nuclear waste shipments on the property market: Evidence from a quasi-experiment," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 56-73.
    4. Patricia Apps & Ray Rees, 2016. "Optimal Taxation, Income Inequality and the Household," CESifo Working Paper Series 5845, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. repec:kap:reveho:v:16:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s11150-016-9345-x is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Mizuki Komura, 2013. "Tax reform and endogenous gender bargaining power," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 175-192, June.
    7. Margit Schratzenstaller, 2012. "Gender Budgeting im Steuersystem," Working Paper Reihe der AK Wien - Materialien zu Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft 116, Kammer für Arbeiter und Angestellte für Wien, Abteilung Wirtschaftswissenschaft und Statistik.
    8. Håkan Selin, 2014. "The rise in female employment and the role of tax incentives. An empirical analysis of the Swedish individual tax reform of 1971," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 21(5), pages 894-922, October.
    9. Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der Gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung (ed.), 2007. "Das Erreichte nicht verspielen. Jahresgutachten 2007/08," Annual Economic Reports / Jahresgutachten, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung, volume 127, number 200708, April.
    10. Schröder, Melanie & Schmitt, Norma & Heynemann, Britta & Brünn, Claudia, 2013. "Income Taxation and Labor Supply: An Experiment on Couple's Work Effort," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79735, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    11. Fisher, Hayley, 2011. "Marriage penalties, marriage, and cohabitation," Working Papers 2011-12, University of Sydney, School of Economics.
    12. Andrew Bauer & Alan Macnaughton & Anindya Sen, 2015. "Income splitting and anti-avoidance legislation: evidence from the Canadian “kiddie tax”," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 22(6), pages 909-931, December.
    13. repec:kap:itaxpf:v:24:y:2017:i:6:d:10.1007_s10797-017-9470-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Melanie Guldi & Lucie Schmidt, 2017. "Taxes, Transfers, and Women’s Labor Supply in the United States," Working Papers 2017-01, University of Central Florida, Department of Economics.
    15. Stevenson, Adam, 2012. "The Labor Supply and Tax Revenue Consequences of Federal Same-Sex Marriage Legalization," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 65(4), pages 783-806, December.
    16. Raaum Oddbjørn & Bratsberg Bernt & Røed Knut & Österbacka Eva & Eriksson Tor & Jäntti Markus & Naylor Robin A, 2008. "Marital Sorting, Household Labor Supply, and Intergenerational Earnings Mobility across Countries," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(2), pages 1-49, January.
    17. Klara Kaliskova, 2013. "Family Taxation and the Female Labor Supply: Evidence from the Czech Republic," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp496, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
    18. Kalíšková, Klára, 2014. "Labor supply consequences of family taxation: Evidence from the Czech Republic," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 234-244.
    19. repec:wfo:monber:y:2018:i:2:p:105-120 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Håkan Selin, 2009. "The Rise in Female Employment and the Role of Tax Incentives - An Empirical Analysis of the Swedish Individual Tax Reform of 1971," CESifo Working Paper Series 2629, CESifo Group Munich.
    21. Chirvi, Malte, 2017. "Arbeiten Frauen aufgrund des Ehegattensplittings weniger? Ein quasi-experimenteller Ansatz für Deutschland," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 217, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    22. André Decoster & Peter Haan, 2011. "A Switch from Joint to Individual Taxation Is Welfare Improving," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1175, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    23. Melanie Schröder & Norma Burow, 2016. "Couple's Labor Supply, Taxes, and the Division of Housework in a Gender-Neutral Lab," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1593, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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