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Tax Simplicity and Heterogeneous Learning

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  • P. Aghion
  • U. Akcigit
  • M. Lequien
  • S. Stantcheva

Abstract

We study how strongly individuals respond to tax simplicity and how they learn about the complexities of the tax system. We use new French tax returns data on the self-employed from 1994 to 2012. France has three fiscal regimes for the self-employed, which differ in their monetary tax incentives and in their tax simplicity. These regimes are subject to eligibility thresholds: we find large excess masses (bunching) right below the latter. The regimes impact different agents heterogeneously and have changed extensively over time. We estimate a large value for tax simplicity of up to 650 euros per year per individual. Tax complexity has sizable costs: agents are not immediately able to understand what the right regime choice is, leave significant money on the table, and learn over time. These costs are “regressive”, impacting more the uneducated, low income, and low skill agents.

Suggested Citation

  • P. Aghion & U. Akcigit & M. Lequien & S. Stantcheva, 2018. "Tax Simplicity and Heterogeneous Learning," Working papers 665, Banque de France.
  • Handle: RePEc:bfr:banfra:665
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    Cited by:

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    2. Zaresani, Arezou, 2020. "Adjustment cost and incentives to work: Evidence from a disability insurance program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 188(C).
    3. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve & Clement Imbert & Maarten Luts & Johannes Spinnewijn & Teodora Tsankova, 2019. "How to improve tax compliance? Evidence from population-wide experiments in Belgium," CEP Discussion Papers dp1621, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    4. Bohne, Albrecht & Nimczik, Jan Sebastian, 2018. "Information Frictions and Learning Dynamics: Evidence from Tax Avoidance in Ecuador," IZA Discussion Papers 11536, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Harju, Jarkko & Matikka, Tuomas & Rauhanen, Timo, 2019. "Compliance costs vs. tax incentives: Why do entrepreneurs respond to size-based regulations?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 173(C), pages 139-164.
    6. Youssef Benzarti & Jarkko Harju & Tuomas Matikka, 2020. "Does Mandating Social Insurance Affect Entrepreneurial Activity?," American Economic Review: Insights, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 255-268, June.
    7. Bartels, Charlotte & Shupe, Cortnie, 2018. "Drivers of participation elasticities across Europe: gender or earner role within the household?," EUROMOD Working Papers EM7/18, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    8. Blesse, Sebastian & Buhlmann, Florian & Doerrenberg, Philipp, 2019. "Do people really want a simple tax system? Evidence on preferences towards income tax simplification," ZEW Discussion Papers 19-058, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    9. Bastani, Spencer & Giebe, Thomas & Miao, Chizheng, 2020. "Ethnicity and tax filing behavior," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 116(C).
    10. Pierce O’Reilly, 2018. "Tax policies for inclusive growth in a changing world," OECD Taxation Working Papers 40, OECD Publishing.
    11. Boris Cournède & Jean-Marc Fournier & Peter Hoeller, 2018. "Public finance structure and inclusive growth," OECD Economic Policy Papers 25, OECD Publishing.
    12. Jérémy BOCCANFUSO & Antoine FEREY, 2019. "Inattention and the Taxation Bias," Working Papers 2019-16, Center for Research in Economics and Statistics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Taxation; personal income and business taxes; tax evasion; income elasticity.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance

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