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Income and Wealth Concentration in Spain in a Historical and Fiscal Perspective

  • Alvaredo, Facundo
  • Saez, Emmanuel

This paper presents series on top shares of income and wealth in Spain over the 20th century using personal income and wealth tax return statistics. Top income shares are highest in the 1930s, fall sharply during the first two decades of the Franco dictatorship, and have increased slightly since the 1960s, and especially since the mid-1990s. The top 0.01% income share in Spain estimated from income tax data is comparable to estimates for the United States and France over the period 1933-1971. Those findings, along with a careful analysis of all published tax statistics, suggest that income tax evasion and avoidance among top income earners in Spain before 1980 was much less prevalent than previously thought. Wealth concentration has been about stable from 1982 to 2004 as surging real estate prices have benefited the middle class and compensated for a slight increase in financial wealth concentration in the 1990s. We use our wealth series and a simple conceptual model to analyse the effects of the wealth tax exemption of stocks for owners managers introduced in 1994. We show that the reform induced substantial shifting from the taxable to tax exempt status. This shifting has eroded the wealth tax base substantially and hence the tax exemption has generated large efficiency costs.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 5836.

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Date of creation: Sep 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5836
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  1. Emmanuel Saez & Michael R. Veall, 2005. "The Evolution of High Incomes in Northern America: Lessons from Canadian Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 831-849, June.
  2. Simon Kuznets, 1950. "Shares of Upper Income Groups in Income and Savings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kuzn50-1, October.
  3. Juan Mora & Antonia Febrer, 2005. "Wage Distribution In Spain, 1994-1999: An Application Of A Flexible Estimator Of Conditional Distributions," Working Papers. Serie EC 2005-04, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  4. Martin Feldstein, 1999. "Tax Avoidance And The Deadweight Loss Of The Income Tax," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 674-680, November.
  5. Emmanuel Saez, 2000. "Using Elasticities to Derive Optimal Income Tax Rates," NBER Working Papers 7628, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Roger H. Gordon & Joel Slemrod, 1998. "Are "Real" Responses to Taxes Simply Income Shifting Between Corporate and Personal Tax Bases?," NBER Working Papers 6576, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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