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The Aggregate Effects of Anticipated and Unanticipated U.S. Tax Policy Shocks: Theory and Empirical Evidence

  • Mertens, Karel
  • Ravn, Morten O

We provide empirical evidence on the effects of tax liability changes in the United States. We make a distinction between "surprise" and "anticipated" tax shocks. Surprise tax cuts give rise to a large boom in the economy. Anticipated tax liability tax cuts are instead associated with a contraction in output, investment and hours worked prior to their implementation. After their implementation, anticipated tax liability cuts lead to an economic expansion. We build a DSGE model with changes in tax rates that may be anticipated or not, estimate key parameters using a simulation estimator and show that it can account for the main features of the data. We argue that tax shocks are empirically important for U.S. business cycles and that the Reagan tax cut, which was largely anticipated, was a main factor behind the early 1980’s recession.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6673.

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Date of creation: Feb 2008
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6673
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  1. Nicholas S. Souleles, 1999. "The Response of Household Consumption to Income Tax Refunds," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 947-958, September.
  2. Alastair Hall & Atsushi & James M Nason & Barbara Rossi, 2009. "Information Criteria For Impulse Response Function Matching Estimation Of Dsge Models," Working Papers 09-09, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  3. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 2001. "Nominal rigidities and the dynamic effects of a shock to monetary policy," Working Paper Series WP-01-08, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
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  7. Poterba, James M, 1988. "Are Consumers Forward Looking? Evidence from Fiscal Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 413-18, May.
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  9. Beaudry, Paul & Portier, Franck, 2004. "An exploration into Pigou's theory of cycles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(6), pages 1183-1216, September.
  10. Nir Jaimovich & Sergio Rebelo, 2006. "Can News About the Future Drive the Business Cycle?," 2006 Meeting Papers 31, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  11. Ramey, Valerie A & Francis, Neville, 2002. "Is The Technology-Driven Real Business Cycle Hypothesis Dead? Shocks and Aggregate Fluctuations Revisted," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt6x80k3nx, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  12. Cogley, Timothy & Nason, James M, 1995. "Output Dynamics in Real-Business-Cycle Models," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 492-511, June.
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  14. McGrattan, Ellen R., 1994. "The macroeconomic effects of distortionary taxation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 573-601, June.
  15. Jim Nason & Barbara Rossi & Atsushi Inoue & Alastair Hall, 2007. "Information Criteria for Impulse Response Function Matching Estimation," 2007 Meeting Papers 293, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  16. Anton Braun, R., 1994. "Tax disturbances and real economic activity in the postwar United States," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 441-462, June.
  17. Jonathan A. Parker, 1999. "The Reaction of Household Consumption to Predictable Changes in Social Security Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 959-973, September.
  18. Souleles, Nicholas S., 2002. "Consumer response to the Reagan tax cuts," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 99-120, July.
  19. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 2007. "The Macroeconomic Effects of Tax Changes: Estimates Based on a New Measure of Fiscal Shocks," NBER Working Papers 13264, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Susan Yang, Shu-Chun, 2005. "Quantifying tax effects under policy foresight," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(8), pages 1557-1568, November.
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