The effect of capital gains taxation on home sales: Evidence from the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997
The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 (TRA97) significantly changed the tax treatment of housing capital gains in the United States. Before 1997, homeowners were subject to capital gains taxation when they sold their houses unless they purchased replacement homes of equal or greater value. Since 1997, homeowners can exclude capital gains of $500,000 (or $250,000 for single filers) when they sell their houses. Such dramatic changes provide a good opportunity to study the lock-in effect of capital gains taxation on home sales. Using 1982-2008 transaction data on single-family houses in 16 affluent towns within the Boston metropolitan area, I find that TRA97 reversed the lock-in effect of capital gains taxes on houses with low and moderate capital gains. Specifically, the semiannual sales rate of houses with positive gains up to $500,000 increased by 0.40-0.62 percentage points after TRA97, representing a 19-24% increase from the pre-TRA97 baseline sales rate. In contrast, I do not find TRA97 to have a significant effect on houses with gains above $500,000. Moreover, the short-term effect of TRA97 is much larger than the long-term effect, suggesting that many previously locked-in homeowners took advantage of the exclusions immediately after TRA97. In addition, I exploit the 2001 and 2003 legislative changes in the capital gains tax rate to estimate the tax elasticity of home sales during the post-TRA97 period. The estimation results suggest that a $10,000 increase in capital gains taxes reduces the semiannual home sales rate by about 0.1-0.2 percentage points, or 6-13% from the post-TRA97 average sales rate.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Karl E. Case & Robert J. Shiller, 1988.
"The behavior of home buyers in boom and post-boom markets,"
New England Economic Review,
Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Nov, pages 29-46.
- Robert J. Shiller & Karl E. Case, 1988. "The Behavior of Home Buyers in Boom and Post-Boom Markets," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 890, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
- Karl E. Case & Robert J. Shiller, 1988. "The Behavior of Home Buyers in Boom and Post-Boom Markets," NBER Working Papers 2748, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Hoyt, William H & Rosenthal, Stuart S, 1990. "Capital Gains Taxation and the Demand for Owner-Occupied Housing," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(1), pages 45-54, February.
- William H. Hoyt & Stuart S. Rosenthal, 1989. "Capital gains taxation and the demand for owner-occupied housing," Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section 92, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- Bound, John & Brown, Charles & Mathiowetz, Nancy, 2001. "Measurement error in survey data," Handbook of Econometrics,in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 59, pages 3705-3843 Elsevier.
- Amelia M. Biehl & William H. Hoyt, 2014. "The Taxpayer Relief Act Of 1997 And Homeownership: Is Smaller Now Better?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(2), pages 646-658, 04.
- Amelia M. Biehl & William Hoyt, 2009. "The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 and Homeownership: Is Smaller Now Better?," Working Papers 2009-04, University of Kentucky, Institute for Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations.
- King, Mervyn A., 1980. "An econometric model of tenure choice and demand for housing as a joint decision," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 137-159, October.
- Goodman, John Jr. & Ittner, John B., 1992. "The accuracy of home owners' estimates of house value," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 339-357, December.
- James M. Poterba, 1984. "Tax Subsidies to Owner-Occupied Housing: An Asset-Market Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(4), pages 729-752.
- Hoyt, William H. & Rosenthal, Stuart S., 1992. "Owner-occupied housing, capital gains, and the Tax Reform Act of 1986," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 119-139, September.
- Rosen, Harvey S., 1979. "Housing decisions and the U.S. income tax : An econometric analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 1-23, February.
- Sandra J. Newman & James D. Reschovsky, 1987. "Federal policy and the mobility of older homeowners," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 6(3), pages 402-416.
- Zhonglan Dai & Edward Maydew & Douglas A. Shackelford & Harold H. Zhang, 2008. "Capital Gains Taxes and Asset Prices: Capitalization or Lock-in?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(2), pages 709-742, 04.
- Zhonglan Dai & Edward Maydew & Douglas A. Shackelford & Harold H. Zhang, 2006. "Capital Gains Taxes and Asset Prices: Capitalization or Lock-In?," NBER Working Papers 12342, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Cunningham, Christopher R. & Engelhardt, Gary V., 2008. "Housing capital-gains taxation and homeowner mobility: Evidence from the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 803-815, May.
- Mervyn A. King, 1980. "An econometric model of tenure choice and demand for housing as a joint decision," NBER Chapters,in: Econometric Studies in Public Finance, pages 137-159 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Katherine A. Kiel & Jeffrey E. Zabel, 1999. "The Accuracy of Owner-Provided House Values: The 1978-1991 American Housing Survey," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 27(2), pages 263-298.
- Todd Sinai, 1997. "Taxation, User Cost, and Household Mobility Decisions," Zell/Lurie Center Working Papers 303, Wharton School Samuel Zell and Robert Lurie Real Estate Center, University of Pennsylvania. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)