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The Role of Misconceptions in Support for Regressive Tax Reform


  • Slemrod, Joel


In this paper, I use data from an exceptionally detailed survey of attitudes toward taxation in the United States to investigate the relative importance of one particular misconception—that high–income people would pay more tax under an apparently regressive reform, mostly because many people believe that the distribution of the burden of the existing income tax is regressive—in explaining public support for a fl at tax and a retail sales tax. I find that this policy misconception is strongly associated with support for replacing the existing income tax with either of these two alternatives. A similar misconception about the distributional impact of the estate tax explains some of the support for eliminating that tax.

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  • Slemrod, Joel, 2006. "The Role of Misconceptions in Support for Regressive Tax Reform," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 59(1), pages 57-75, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:ntj:journl:v:59:y:2006:i:1:p:57-75

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Janet Currie, 2004. "The Take Up of Social Benefits," NBER Working Papers 10488, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Altshuler, Rosanne & Schwartz, Amy Ellen, 1996. "On the Progressivity of the Child Care Tax Credit: Snapshot Versus Time-Exposure Incidence," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 49(1), pages 55-71, March.
    3. Burman, Leonard E., 2003. "Is the Tax Expenditure Concept Still Relevant?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 56(3), pages 613-627, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rupert Sausgruber & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2008. "Tax Salience, Voting, and Deliberation," Discussion Papers 08-21, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    2. Raj Chetty, 2009. "Sufficient Statistics for Welfare Analysis: A Bridge Between Structural and Reduced-Form Methods," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 451-488, May.
    3. repec:ejn:ejefjr:v:5:y:2017:i:4:p:50-75 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2009. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1145-1177, September.
    5. Heinemann Friedrich, 2010. "Ansatzpunkte einer Gewissensökonomik / Approaches to the economics of consciense," ORDO. Jahrbuch für die Ordnung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, De Gruyter, vol. 61(1), pages 151-168, January.
    6. Friedrich Heinemann & Eckhard Janeba, 2011. "Viewing Tax Policy Through Party‐Colored Glasses: What German Politicians Believe," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 12(3), pages 286-311, August.
    7. 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.
    8. Farhi, Emmanuel & Gabaix, Xavier, 2015. "Optimal Taxation with Behavioral Agents," CEPR Discussion Papers 11008, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Joel Slemrod, 2010. "Old George Orwell Got It Backward: Some Thoughts on Behavioral Tax Economics," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 66(1), pages 15-33, March.
    10. Markus Knell & Helmut Stix, 2017. "Inequality, Perception Biases and Trust," Working Papers 211, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank).
    11. Krupnikov, Yanna & Levine, Adam Seth & Lupia, Arthur & Prior, Markus, 2006. "Public Ignorance and Estate Tax Repeal: The Effect of Partisan Differences and Survey Incentives," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 59(3), pages 425-437, September.
    12. Raj Chetty, 2009. "The Simple Economics of Salience and Taxation," NBER Working Papers 15246, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Ilyana Kuziemko & Michael I. Norton & Emmanuel Saez & Stefanie Stantcheva, 2015. "How Elastic Are Preferences for Redistribution? Evidence from Randomized Survey Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(4), pages 1478-1508, April.
    14. Arno Riedl, 2009. "Behavioral and Experimental Economics Can Inform Public Policy: Some Thoughts," CESifo Working Paper Series 2902, CESifo Group Munich.
    15. Kotval-K, Zeenat & Vojnovic, Igor, 2016. "A socio-ecological exploration into urban form: The environmental costs of travel," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 87-98.
    16. Cruces, Guillermo & Perez-Truglia, Ricardo & Tetaz, Martin, 2013. "Biased perceptions of income distribution and preferences for redistribution: Evidence from a survey experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 100-112.
    17. Sausgruber, Rupert & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2011. "Are we taxing ourselves?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(1), pages 164-176.

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