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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. Ugo Colombino & R. Aaberge & T. Wennemo, 2006. "Evaluating Alternative Representations of the Choice Sets in Models of Labour Supply," CHILD Working Papers wp17_06, CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY.
  2. Bargain, Olivier & Caliendo, Marco & Haan, Peter & Orsini, Kristian, 2006. "'Making Work Pay' in a Rationed Labour Market," IZA Discussion Papers 2033, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Richard Blundell & Andrew Shephard, 2012. "Employment, Hours of Work and the Optimal Taxation of Low-Income Families," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(2), pages 481-510.
  4. Ugo Colombino & Rolf Aaberge, 2006. "Designing Optimal Taxes with a Microeconometric Model of Household Labour Supply," CHILD Working Papers wp20_06, CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY.
  5. Peter Haan & Katharina Wrohlich, 2007. "Optimal Taxation: The Design of Child Related Cash- and In-Kind-Benefits," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 65, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  6. Alesina, Alberto F & Ichino, Andrea & Karabarbounis, Loukas, 2007. "Gender Based Taxation and the Division of Family Chores," CEPR Discussion Papers 6591, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. 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.
  8. Emmanuel Saez, 2000. "Optimal Income Transfer Programs: Intensive Versus Extensive Labor Supply Responses," NBER Working Papers 7708, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. François Bourguignon & Amadéo Spadaro, 2005. "Tax-benefit revealed social preferences," PSE Working Papers halshs-00590779, HAL.
  10. 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.
  11. Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Claus Thustrup Kreiner & Emmanuel Saez, 2009. "The Optimal Income Taxation of Couples," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(2), pages 537-560, 03.
  12. 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).
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Duncan, Alan & Weeks, Melvyn, 1997. "Behavioural tax microsimulation with finite hours choices," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(3-5), pages 619-626, April.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
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