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Optimal Income Taxation of Married Couples: An Empirical Analysis of Joint and Individual Taxation

  • Peter Haan
  • Dolores Navarro

In this paper we develop a discrete model of optimal taxation of married couples and empirically discuss the optimality of income taxation for this group. To this end, we derive the social welfare function which guarantees that joint taxation of married couples is optimal. We will contrast this welfare function with the one that makes a system of individual taxation optimal. For the empirical application we use a static structural labor supply model to estimate the preferences of households. We find that the system of joint taxation is only optimal when the government has a high taste for redistribution towards one-earner couples and a very low or even negative taste for redistribution towards couples in which both partners earn a similar amount of income. In contrast, the optimality of individual taxation is less dependent of the working composition within the household.

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File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.90469.de/dp838.pdf
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Paper provided by DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research in its series Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin with number 838.

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Length: 35 p.
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp838
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  1. François Bourguignon & Amadéo Spadaro, 2012. "Tax-benefit revealed social preferences," PSE - Labex "OSE-Ouvrir la Science Economique" halshs-00754607, HAL.
  2. Patricia F. Apps & Ray Rees, 1999. "Individual versus Joint Taxation in Models with Household Production," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(2), pages 393-403, April.
  3. Heckman, James J, 1993. "What Has Been Learned about Labor Supply in the Past Twenty Years?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 116-21, May.
  4. 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, 08.
  5. Blundell, Richard & Shephard, Andrew, 2011. "Employment, Hours of Work and the Optimal Taxation of Low Income Families," IZA Discussion Papers 5745, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Claus Thustrup Kreiner & Emmanuel Saez, 2006. "The Optimal Income Taxation of Couples," NBER Working Papers 12685, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Richard Blundell & Mike Brewer & Peter Haan & Andrew Shephard, 2009. "Optimal Income Taxation of Lone Mothers: An Empirical Comparison of the UK and Germany," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(535), pages F101-F121, 02.
  8. Bonin, Holger & Kempe, Wolfram & Schneider, Hilmar, 2002. "Household Labor Supply Effects of Low-Wage Subsidies in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 637, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Aaberge, Rolf & Colombino, Ugo, 2006. "Designing Optimal Taxes with a Microeconometric Model of Household Labour Supply," IZA Discussion Papers 2468, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Duncan, Alan & Weeks, Melvyn, 1997. "Behavioural tax microsimulation with finite hours choices," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(3-5), pages 619-626, April.
  11. Olivier Bargain & Marco Caliendo & Peter Haan & Kristian Orsini, 2010. "“Making work pay” in a rationed labor market," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 23(1), pages 323-351, January.
  12. Ugo Colombino & Rolf Aaberge & Tom Wennemo, 2005. "Evaluating Alternative Representations of the Choice Sets in Models of Labour Supply," Econometrics 0510001, EconWPA.
  13. Emmanuel Saez, 2002. "Optimal Income Transfer Programs: Intensive versus Extensive Labor Supply Responses," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 1039-1073.
  14. Viktor Steiner & Katharina Wrohlich, 2004. "Household Taxation, Income Splitting and Labor Supply Incentives: A Microsimulation Study for Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 421, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  15. Peter Haan, 2006. "Much ado about nothing: conditional logit vs. random coefficient models for estimating labour supply elasticities," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(4), pages 251-256.
  16. Alberto Alesina & Andrea Ichino & Loukas Karabarbounis, 2011. "Gender-Based Taxation and the Division of Family Chores," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 1-40, May.
  17. Aaberge, Rolf & Dagsvik, John K & Strom, Steinar, 1995. " Labor Supply Responses and Welfare Effects of Tax Reforms," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(4), pages 635-59, December.
  18. 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.
  19. Viktor Steiner & Katharina Wrohlich & Peter Haan & Johannes Geyer, 2008. "Documentation of the Tax-Benefit Microsimulation Model STSM: Version 2008," Data Documentation 31, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
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