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Top Incomes and Top Taxes in Germany

Author

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  • Stefan Bach
  • Giacomo Corneo
  • Viktor Steiner

Abstract

We analyze the distribution and taxation of top incomes in Germany during the 1990s on the basis of individual tax returns data. We derive a measure of economic income from taxable gross income as reported in the tax returns. Thanks to complete sampling, we can deliver a very precise description of very high incomes, in terms of both distribution and composition by source. We also provide a measure of the effective average rate of taxation for various income groups. Our main findings are as follows: (i) incomes are highly concentrated in Germany, more than commonly thought; (ii) the German economic elite relies much less than elites in France or the US upon income from wages and salaries; (iii) income taxes are highly concentrated in Germany, more than commonly thought; (iv) although effective tax rates are significantly lower than statutory ones, the income tax is effectively progressive; (v) income taxation substantially reduces income inequality in Germany.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefan Bach & Giacomo Corneo & Viktor Steiner, 2006. "Top Incomes and Top Taxes in Germany," CESifo Working Paper Series 1641, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1641
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fabien Dell, 2005. "Top Incomes in Germany and Switzerland Over the Twentieth Century," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 412-421, 04/05.
    2. Emmanuel Saez, 2004. "Reported Incomes and Marginal Tax Rates, 1960–2000: Evidence and Policy Implications," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 18, pages 117-174, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Giacomo Corneo, 2005. "The Rise and Likely Fall of the German Income Tax, 1958–2005," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 51(1), pages 159-186.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fossen, Frank M. & Steiner, Viktor, 2006. "Income Taxes and Entrepreneurial Choice: Empirical Evidence from Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 2164, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Horn-Chern Lin & Tao Zeng, 2010. "The distributional impact of income tax in Canada and China: 1997-2005," Journal of Chinese Economic and Foreign Trade Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 3(2), pages 132-145, June.
    3. Roine, Jesper & Vlachos, Jonas & Waldenström, Daniel, 2007. "What Determines Top Income Shares? Evidence from the Twentieth Century," Research Papers in Economics 2007:17, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
    4. Stefan Bach & Giacomo Corneo & Viktor Steiner, 2007. "From Bottom to Top: The Entire Distribution of Market Income in Germany, 1992-2001," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 51, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    5. Frank Fossen & Viktor Steiner, 2009. "Income taxes and entrepreneurial choice: empirical evidence from two German natural experiments," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 487-513, June.
    6. Baclet, Alexandre & Dell, Fabien & Wrohlich, Katharina, 2005. "Income Taxation and Household Size: Would French Family Splitting Make German Families Better Off?," IZA Discussion Papers 1894, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Martin Jacob & Rainer Niemann & Martin Weiss, 2008. "The Rich Demystified - A Reply to Bach, Corneo, and Steiner (2008)," CESifo Working Paper Series 2478, CESifo.
    8. Corneo, Giacomo, 2008. "Charity and redistributive taxation in a unionized economy," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 831-843, October.
    9. Peter Haan, 2007. "Intertemporal Labor Supply Effects of Tax Reforms," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 669, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    10. Enrico Rubolino & Daniel Waldenström, 2019. "Trends and gradients in top tax elasticities: cross-country evidence, 1900–2014," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 26(3), pages 457-485, June.
    11. Roine, Jesper & Vlachos, Jonas & Waldenström, Daniel, 2009. "The long-run determinants of inequality: What can we learn from top income data?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 974-988, August.
    12. Stefan Bach & Giacomo Corneo & Viktor Steiner, 2008. "Effective Taxation of Top Incomes in Germany, 1992 - 2002," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 767, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    13. Fritzsche, Bernd & Haisken-DeNew, John & Kambeck, Rainer & Siemers, Lars-H. R. & Bergs, Christian & Fuest, Clemens & Peichl, Andreas & Schaefer, Thilo & Thöne, Michael, 2007. "Der Zusammenhang zwischen Steuerlast- und Einkommensverteilung: Forschungsprojekt für das Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales. Endbericht - Dezember 2007," RWI Projektberichte, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, number 70874, November.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    income distribution; personal income tax; taxing the rich;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance

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