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Consumption smoothing and the measured regressivity of consumption taxes

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  • Kartik B. Athreya
  • Devin Reilly

Abstract

In this article, we address two questions. First, how will a move to pure consumption taxation matter for aggregate outcomes? Second, how regressive are consumption taxes? We find as follows. First, a move to a consumption tax will increase savings taken into retirement but will not alter either labor supply or consumption variability substantially. Second, we show that regressivity is a measure that is quantitatively sensitive to the frequency of income being used. In particular, we show that when measures of tax incidence are based on annual income, successful consumption smoothing leads to the appearance of high regressivity. Our preferred measure, which is based on lifetime earnings, shows that consumption taxes are proportional taxes.

Suggested Citation

  • Kartik B. Athreya & Devin Reilly, 2009. "Consumption smoothing and the measured regressivity of consumption taxes," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Win, pages 75-100.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedreq:y:2009:i:win:p:75-100:n:v.95no.1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Amir Ahmadi, Pooyan & Matthes, Christian & Wang, Mu-Chun, 2014. "Drifts, Volatilities and Impulse Responses Over the Last Century," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100562, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Athreya, Kartik & Reilly, Devin & Simpson, Nicole B., 2014. "Single Mothers and the Earned Income Tax Credit: Insurance Without Disincentives?," IZA Discussion Papers 8114, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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    Keywords

    Taxation ; Consumption (Economics);

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