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Does a Simpler Income Tax Yield More Equity and Efficiency?

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  • Clemens Fuest
  • Andreas Peichl
  • Thilo Schaefer

Abstract

This article investigates the impact of tax simplification on various indicators of the efficiency of the tax system and on the distribution of income. The analysis is based on a simulation model (FiFoSiM) using German income tax and household survey microdata. We model tax simplification as the abolition of a set of deductions from the income tax base. We find that this form of tax base simplification leads to a reduction in the use of professional tax advice, a more equitable income distribution and an increase in tax revenue. If this is combined with a reduction of income tax rates to preserve revenue neutrality, the effects depend on the type of rate schedule adjustment. The combination with a flat rate tax increases income inequality at the expense of the middle class, but it also leads to efficiency gains because tax distortions of labour supply are reduced. The combination with a rate schedule adjustment, which preserves the directly progressive schedule reduces inequality but increases overall tax distortions. We conclude that the effects of tax base simplification on after tax income inequality and tax distortions mainly depend on the type of tax schedule adjustment. (JEL Codes: D3, H2, J22) Copyright , Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Clemens Fuest & Andreas Peichl & Thilo Schaefer, 2008. "Does a Simpler Income Tax Yield More Equity and Efficiency?," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 54(1), pages 73-97, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cesifo:v:54:y:2008:i:1:p:73-97
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/cesifo/ifn003
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Max Löffler & Andreas Peichl & Nico Pestel & Hilmar Schneider & Sebastian Siegloch, 2011. "Einfach ist nicht immer gerecht : eine Mikrosimulationsstudie der Kirchhof-Reform für die Einkommensteuer," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 80(4), pages 147-160.
    2. Shun-ichiro Bessho & Masayoshi Hayashi, 2011. "Should Japanese Tax System Be More Progressive?," Global COE Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series gd10-181, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    3. Weigert, Benjamin & Klemm, Marcus, 2015. "Composition matters! Wage inequality and the demographic and educational structure of the labor force in Germany," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 112914, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    4. Nina Hetzer & Andreas Peichl, 2010. "Steuerstrukturreform trotz leerer Kassen?!," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 63(01), pages 28-35, January.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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