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Methodological Issues in Measuring and Interpreting Taxable Income Elasticities

  • Slemrod, Joel

Because the response of taxable income to the income tax rate captures all of the responses to taxation, it holds the promise of more accurately summarizing the marginal efficiency cost of taxation than a narrower measure of taxpayer response such as the labor supply elasticity. The promise does, though, come with problems and caveats. This paper reviews the key issues in empirically measuring the taxable income elasticity and in using it to evaluate tax reform. I stress the idea that the taxable income elasticity is a matter of government policy, rather than an immutable parameter, and note the importance of looking for revenue offsets in other tax bases and other time periods.

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Article provided by National Tax Association in its journal National Tax Journal.

Volume (Year): 51 (1998)
Issue (Month): n. 4 (December)
Pages: 773-88

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Handle: RePEc:ntj:journl:v:51:y:1998:i:n._4:p:773-88
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  1. Slemrod, Joel & Kopczuk, Wojciech, 2002. "The optimal elasticity of taxable income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 91-112, April.
  2. Feldstein, Martin, 1997. "How Big Should Government Be?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 50(2), pages 197-213, June.
  3. Martin Feldstein, 1995. "Tax Avoidance and the Deadweight Loss of the Income Tax," NBER Working Papers 5055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Feldstein, Martin, 1997. "How Big Should Government Be?," Scholarly Articles 3043427, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Maki, Dean M., 1996. "Portfolio Shuffling and Tax Reform," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 49(3), pages 317-29, September.
  6. 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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