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Tax Reform, Targeting and the Tax Burden on Women

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  • Patricia Apps

Abstract

In the early 1980’s Australia had a highly progressive, individual based income tax and families received support for dependent children in the form of universal family allowances. The introduction of income tests for child support payments based on family income (now in the form of Family Tax Benefit Part A), together with changes in the rate scale applying to personal income, have had the effect of replacing Australia’s progressive individual based income tax with a system that tends towards one of joint taxation under a rate scale that exhibits an inverted U-shaped profile – the highest marginal rates apply to average incomes, and to the incomes of the second earner in the family. This paper shows how the introduction of this new income tax system has shifted the overall burden of taxation towards families with two-earners on low and average wages and to working married mothers in particular as second earners. The paper proposes a return to a progressive individual based income tax and universal family payments for dependent children, for reasons of both fairness and efficiency, and argues for the elimination of policy instruments that create complexity and serve only to reduce the transparency of tax reform.

Suggested Citation

  • Patricia Apps, 2009. "Tax Reform, Targeting and the Tax Burden on Women," CEPR Discussion Papers 609, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:auu:dpaper:609
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    File URL: https://www.cbe.anu.edu.au/researchpapers/cepr/DP609.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sumru Altuğ & Robert A. Miller, 1998. "The Effect of Work Experience on Female Wages and Labour Supply," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(1), pages 45-85.
    2. Boskin, Michael J. & Sheshinski, Eytan, 1983. "Optimal tax treatment of the family: Married couples," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 281-297, April.
    3. Shaw, Kathryn L, 1989. "Life-Cycle Labor Supply with Human Capital Accumulation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 30(2), pages 431-456, May.
    4. J. A. Mirrlees, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 175-208.
    5. Apps, Patricia & Rees, Ray, 2001. "Household production, full consumption and the costs of children," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(6), pages 621-648, December.
    6. Alberto Alesina & Andrea Ichino & Loukas Karabarbounis, 2011. "Gender-Based Taxation and the Division of Family Chores," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 1-40, May.
    7. Susumu Imai & Michael P. Keane, 2004. "Intertemporal Labor Supply and Human Capital Accumulation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(2), pages 601-641, May.
    8. Apps, Patricia & Rees, Ray, 1999. "On the taxation of trade within and between households," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 241-263, August.
    9. Kathryn Shaw, 1994. "The Persistence of Female Labor Supply: Empirical Evidence and Implications," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(2), pages 348-378.
    10. Eytan Sheshinski, 1972. "The Optimal Linear Income-tax," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 39(3), pages 297-302.
    11. Sandmo, Agnar, 1990. "Tax Distortions and Household Production," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(1), pages 78-90, January.
    12. Schroyen, Fred, 2003. "Redistributive taxation and the household: the case of individual filings," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(11), pages 2527-2547, October.
    13. Patricia Apps, 2007. "Taxation And Labour Supply," CEPR Discussion Papers 560, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
    14. Apps, Patricia, 1982. "Institutional inequality and tax incidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 217-242, July.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Income taxation; Family benefits; Time allocation; Labour supply; Household production; Discrimination;

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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