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The distributional effects of taxes and transfers under alternative income concepts: the importance of three ‘I’s

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  • Figari, Francesco
  • Paulus, Alari

Abstract

This paper investigates how the distribution of income changes when the standard definition of disposable income is replaced by an extended income concept which takes into account the three ‘I’s: indirect taxes, imputed rent, and in-kind benefits. Second, it assesses how sensitive the distributional effects of each tax-benefit instrument are to the choice of income concept. The analysis covers three European countries (Belgium, Greece and the UK) characterised by substantially different tax-benefit systems, giving a stronger base for generalising the results. The main findings are that the overall redistributive effect of the tax-benefit systems depends heavily on the income concept considered and the differences across countries are smaller when considering the extended income distribution. Moreover, the common use of a narrower income concept, such as the disposable income, can lead to the overestimation of the redistributive effect of the cash tax-benefit instruments (in relative terms), the extent of this varying across countries, due to the size and distribution of three ‘I’s and the adoption of the needs-adjusted equivalence scale.

Suggested Citation

  • Figari, Francesco & Paulus, Alari, 2013. "The distributional effects of taxes and transfers under alternative income concepts: the importance of three ‘I’s," EUROMOD Working Papers EM15/13, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:ese:emodwp:em15-13
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    File URL: https://www.iser.essex.ac.uk/research/publications/working-papers/euromod/em15-13.pdf
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