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The Elasticity of Taxable Income during the 1990s: New Estimates and Sensitivity Analyses

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  • Seth H. Giertz

    () (Department of Economics, CBA 368, P.O. Box 880489, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68588-0489, USA;)

Abstract

Over the past two decades, the elasticity of taxable income has emerged as the central parameter for assessing efficiency and revenue implications from changes to tax policy. This article estimates short- and longer-run responses of taxable (and gross) income to changes in tax rates using panels of U.S. tax returns for the 1990s. With the richest set of income controls, income-weighted elasticity estimates range from 0.19 to 0.33, depending on whether responses are measured over one- or three-year intervals. An alternative approach designed to capture delayed and anticipatory responses yields much larger estimates—ranging from 0.43 over the short term and from 0.78 to 1.46 over the longer term. A continuing obstacle to identification encountered here is that the income controls most likely to control for mean reversion and divergence within the income distribution are also the most likely to absorb independent variation in tax rates, also needed for identification.

Suggested Citation

  • Seth H. Giertz, 2010. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income during the 1990s: New Estimates and Sensitivity Analyses," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 406-433, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:77:2:y:2010:p:406-433
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.4284/sej.2010.77.2.406
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Neisser, Carina, 2017. "The elasticity of taxable income: A meta-regression analysis," ZEW Discussion Papers 17-032, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    2. Karel Mertens & José L. Montiel Olea, 2013. "Marginal Tax Rates and Income: New Time Series Evidence," NBER Working Papers 19171, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Dwenger, Nadja & Steiner, Viktor, 2012. "Profit Taxation and the Elasticity of the Corporate Income Tax Base: Evidence From German Corporate Tax Return Data," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, pages 118-150.
    4. Carey, Simon & Creedy, John & Gemmell, Norman & Teng, Josh, 2012. "Regression Estimates of the Elasticity of Taxable Income and the Choice of Instrument," Working Paper Series 2429, Victoria University of Wellington, Chair in Public Finance.
    5. Weber, Caroline E., 2014. "Toward obtaining a consistent estimate of the elasticity of taxable income using difference-in-differences," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 90-103.
    6. Emmanuel Saez & Joel Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2012. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, pages 3-50.
    7. John Creedy & Norman Gemmell, 2013. "Revenue-Maximising Elasticities of Taxable Income in Multi-Rate Income Tax Structures," Treasury Working Paper Series 13/27, New Zealand Treasury.
    8. Holmlund Bertil & Söderström Martin, 2011. "Estimating Dynamic Income Responses to Tax Reform," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, pages 1-38.
    9. José Félix Sanz-Sanz & María Arrazola-Vacas & Nuria Rueda-López & Desiderio Romero-Jordán, 2015. "Reported gross income and marginal tax rates: estimation of the behavioural reactions of Spanish taxpayers," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(5), pages 466-484, January.
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    14. Tuomas Matikka, 2014. "Taxable Income Elasticity and the Anatomy of Behavioral Response: Evidence from Finland," Working Papers 55, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT).
    15. Emmanuel Saez & Joel Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2012. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, pages 3-50.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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