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Introducing Family Tax Splitting in Germany: How Would It Affect the Income Distribution, Work Incentives and Household Welfare?

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  • Viktor Steiner
  • Katharina Wrohlich

Abstract

We analyze the effects of three alternative proposals to reform the taxation of families relative to the current German system of joint taxation of couples and child allowances: a French-type family splitting and two full family splitting proposals. The empirical analysis of the effects of these proposals on the income distribution and on work incentives is based on a behavioral micro-simulation model which integrates an empirical household labor supply model into a detailed tax-benefit model based on the German Socio Economic Panel. Our simulation results show that, under each reform, the lion's share of the reduction in taxes would accrue to families with children in the upper part of the income distribution, and that expected labor supply effects are small for all analyzed family tax splitting reforms, both in absolute terms and relative to the implied fiscal costs. If budgetary balance were financed by a lump-sum reduction of the child benefit, our results suggest that none of the reforms would be elfareimproving.

Suggested Citation

  • Viktor Steiner & Katharina Wrohlich, 2007. "Introducing Family Tax Splitting in Germany: How Would It Affect the Income Distribution, Work Incentives and Household Welfare?," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 44, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp44
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Viktor Steiner & Katharina Wrohlich, 2004. "Household Taxation, Income Splitting and Labor Supply Incentives – A Microsimulation Study for Germany," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 50(3), pages 541-568.
    2. Helene Dearing & Helmut Hofer & Christine Lietz & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer & Katharina Wrohlich, 2007. "Why Are Mothers Working Longer Hours in Austria than in Germany? A Comparative Microsimulation Analysis," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 28(4), pages 463-495, December.
    3. 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 for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Maiterth, Ralf, 2005. "Familienpolitik und deutsches Einkommensteuerrecht: empirische Ergebnisse und familienpolitische Schlussfolgerungen," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 7, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    5. Patricia Apps & Ray Rees, 2007. "The Taxation of Couples," Discussion Papers 07/21, Department of Economics, University of York.
    6. Paul Bernd Spahn & Helmut Kaiser & Thomas Kassella, 1992. "The tax dilemma of married women in Germany," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 13(2), pages 22-47, May.
    7. Viktor Steiner & Peter Haan & Katharina Wrohlich, 2005. "Dokumentation des Steuer-Transfer-Mikrosimulationsmodells STSM 1999 - 2002," Data Documentation 9, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    8. Matthias Wrede, 2003. "The Income Splitting Method: Is it Good for Both Marriage Partners?," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 4(2), pages 203-216, May.
    9. Homburg, Stefan, 2000. "Das einkommensteuerliche Ehegattensplitting," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 261-268.
    10. Arthur van Soest, 1995. "Structural Models of Family Labor Supply: A Discrete Choice Approach," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(1), pages 63-88.
    11. Laisney, François & Beninger, Denis & Beblo, Miriam, 2003. "Family Tax Splitting: A Microsimulation of its Potential Labour Supply and Intra-household Welfare Effects in Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 03-32, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    12. Creedy, J. & Duncan, A., 1999. "Welfare, Non-Linear Busget Constraints and Behavioural Microsimulation," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 688, The University of Melbourne.
    13. Bergs, Christian & Fuest, Clemens & Peichl, Andreas & Schaefer, Thilo, 2006. "Das Familienrealsplitting als Reformoption der Familienbesteuerung," Wirtschaftsdienst – Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftspolitik (1949 - 2007), ZBW – German National Library of Economics / Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, vol. 86(10), pages 639-644.
    14. Peter Haan & Viktor Steiner, 2005. "Distributional Effects of the German Tax Reform 2000 - A Behavioral Microsimulation Analysis," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 125(1), pages 39-49.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kai-Uwe Müller & Katharina Wrohlich, 2014. "Two Steps Forward - One Step Back?: Evaluating Contradicting Child Care Policies in Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 684, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    2. Gruber, Magdalena & Höhenberger, Nicole & Höserle, Silke & Niemann, Rainer, 2009. "Familienbesteuerung in Österreich und Deutschland: Eine vergleichende Analyse unter Berücksichtigung aktueller Steuerreformen," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 82, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    3. Volker Meier & Matthias Wrede, 2013. "Reducing the excess burden of subsidizing the stork: joint taxation, individual taxation, and family tax splitting," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(3), pages 1195-1207, July.
    4. Hans Fehr & Manuel Kallweit & Fabian Kindermann, 2013. "Reforming Family Taxation in Germany - Labor Supply vs. Insurance Effects," CESifo Working Paper Series 4386, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Bach, Stefan & Corneo, Giacomo & Steiner, Viktor, 2012. "Optimal top marginal tax rates under income splitting for couples," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(6), pages 1055-1069.
    6. Patricia Apps & Ray Rees, 2016. "Optimal Taxation, Income Inequality and the Household," CESifo Working Paper Series 5845, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Vanessa Mühlböck, 2009. "Geschlechtergerechtigkeit des Einkommensteuersystems Mythos oder Wahrheit?," Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft - WuG, Kammer für Arbeiter und Angestellte für Wien, Abteilung Wirtschaftswissenschaft und Statistik, vol. 35(1), pages 45-64.
    8. Wrohlich, Katharina & Müller, Kai-Uwe, 2014. "Two steps forward - one step back? Evaluating recent child care policies in Germany," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100438, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    9. Stefan Bach & Peter Haan & Richard Ochmann, 2013. "Taxation of Married Couples in Germany and the UK: One-Earner Couples Make the Difference," International Journal of Microsimulation, International Microsimulation Association, vol. 6(3), pages 3-24.
    10. Håkan Selin, 2014. "The rise in female employment and the role of tax incentives. An empirical analysis of the Swedish individual tax reform of 1971," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 21(5), pages 894-922, October.
    11. Felix Hüfner & Caroline Klein, 2012. "The German Labour Market: Preparing for the Future," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 983, OECD Publishing.
    12. Sven Stöwhase, 2016. "Horizontal Inequities in the German Tax-Benefit-System: The Case of Two Wage-Earner Employee Households," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 313-329, June.
    13. Peter Haan & Katharina Wrohlich, 2010. "Optimal Taxation: The Design of Child-Related Cash and In-Kind Benefits," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 11, pages 278-301, August.
    14. repec:spr:epolit:v:34:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s40888-016-0039-x is not listed on IDEAS
    15. HÃ¥kan Selin, 2009. "The Rise in Female Employment and the Role of Tax Incentives - An Empirical Analysis of the Swedish Individual Tax Reform of 1971," CESifo Working Paper Series 2629, CESifo Group Munich.
    16. Anna Kurowska & Michal Myck & Katharina Wrohlich, 2012. "Family and Labor Market Choices: Requirements to Guide Effective Evidence-Based Policy," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1234, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    17. Beninger, Denis & Bonin, Holger & Clauss, Markus & Horstschräer, Julia & Mühler, Grit, 2009. "Fiskalische Auswirkungen sowie arbeitsmarkt- und verteilungspolitische Effekte einer Einführung eines Betreuungsgeldes für Kinder unter 3 Jahren: Studie im Auftrag des Bundesministeriums der Finanzen.," ZEW Expertises, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research, number 110517.
    18. Melanie Schröder & Norma Burow, 2016. "Couple's Labor Supply, Taxes, and the Division of Housework in a Gender-Neutral Lab," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1593, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Household Taxation; Income Distribution; Work Incentives; Microsimulation;

    JEL classification:

    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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