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Progressive Taxes and Firm Births


  • Bacher, Hans Ulrich
  • Brülhart, Marius


Tax reform proposals in the spirit of the 'flat tax' model typically aim to reduce three parameters: the average tax burden, the progressivity of the tax schedule, and the complexity of the tax code. We explore the implications of changes in these three parameters on entrepreneurial activity, measured by counts of firm births. The Swiss fiscal system offers sufficient intra-national variation in tax codes to allow us to estimate these effects with considerable precision. We find that high average taxes and complicated tax codes depress firm birth rates, while tax progressivity per se promotes firm births. The latter result supports the existence of an insurance effect from progressive corporate income taxes for risk averse entrepreneurs. However, implied elastiticities with respect to the level and complexity of corporate taxes are an order of magnitude larger than elasticities with respect to the progressivity of tax schedules.

Suggested Citation

  • Bacher, Hans Ulrich & Brülhart, Marius, 2010. "Progressive Taxes and Firm Births," CEPR Discussion Papers 7830, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7830

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    Cited by:

    1. Wong, Kit Pong, 2011. "Progressive taxation and the intensity and timing of investment," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 28(1-2), pages 100-108, January.
    2. repec:spr:anresc:v:60:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s00168-017-0849-y is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Eva Luthi & Kurt Schmidheiny, 2014. "The effect of agglomeration size on local taxes," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(2), pages 265-287.
    4. repec:kap:itaxpf:v:24:y:2017:i:6:d:10.1007_s10797-017-9446-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Gabor Bekes & Peter Harasztosi, 2015. "Grid and shake - Spatial aggregation and robustness of regionally estimated elasticities," IEHAS Discussion Papers 1526, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
    6. Hoppe, Thomas & Schanz, Deborah & Sturm, Susann & Sureth-Sloane, Caren, 2017. "What are the drivers of tax complexity for multinational corporations? Evidence from 108 countries," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 223, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    7. Jörn Block, 2016. "Corporate income taxes and entrepreneurship," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 257-257, May.
    8. Wong, Kit Pong, 2011. "Progressive taxation and the intensity and timing of investment," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 100-108.
    9. Berger, Melissa & Misch, Florian & Voget, Johannes, 2016. "Becoming an Entrepreneur - The Role of Profit Taxes," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145559, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

    More about this item


    corporate taxation; entrepreneurship; firm location; risk taking;

    JEL classification:

    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H32 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Firm
    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations
    • R3 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location


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