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A Note on the Taxation of Couples Under Income Uncertainty


  • Giacomo Corneo


A neglected implication of the choice of the tax unit is its impact on the consumption risk carried by taxpayers. As compared to individual taxation, joint taxation with income splitting provides couples with more insurance against the risk of earning inability for one of the spouses. If that risk is not insurable in markets and labor supply is exogenous, a change from individual taxation to joint taxation with income splitting can raise all couples' expected welfare.

Suggested Citation

  • Giacomo Corneo, 2013. "A Note on the Taxation of Couples Under Income Uncertainty," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 69(1), pages 129-134, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:mhr:finarc:urn:sici:0015-2218(201303)69:1_129:anotto_2.0.tx_2-m
    DOI: 10.1628/001522108X663505

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eaton, Jonathan & Rosen, Harvey S., 1980. "Labor supply, uncertainty, and efficient taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 365-374, December.
    2. W. Chiu & Louis Eeckhoudt, 2010. "The effects of stochastic wages and non-labor income on labor supply: update and extensions," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 100(1), pages 69-83, May.
    3. Bovenberg, A. Lans & Goulder, Lawrence H., 2002. "Environmental taxation and regulation," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 23, pages 1471-1545 Elsevier.
    4. Apps,Patricia & Rees,Ray, 2009. "Public Economics and the Household," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521716284, March.
    5. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz & Ladoux, Norbert, 1998. "Externalities and optimal taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 343-364, December.
    6. Kopczuk, Wojciech, 2003. "A note on optimal taxation in the presence of externalities," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 81-86, July.
    7. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1976. "The design of tax structure: Direct versus indirect taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 55-75.
    8. Varian, Hal R., 1980. "Redistributive taxation as social insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 49-68, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hans Fehr & Manuel Kallweit & Fabian Kindermann, 2013. "Reforming Family Taxation in Germany - Labor Supply vs. Insurance Effects," CESifo Working Paper Series 4386, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Hermann Buslei & Katharina Wrohlich, 2014. "Besteuerung von Paaren: das Ehegattensplitting und seine Alternativen," DIW Roundup: Politik im Fokus 21, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.

    More about this item


    progressive income tax; tax unit; income uncertainty; insurance;

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies


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