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Entrepreneurs and income-shifting: Empirical evidence from a Finnish tax reform

  • Jarkko Harju
  • Tuomas Matikka

This study examines the extent of direct tax avoidance through income-shifting between wages and dividends, and approximates the deadweight loss due to this behavior for the owners of privately held corporations. The dual income tax system in Finland offers noticeable incentives for income-shifting. The extensive dividend tax reform of 2005 enables us to study how this particular form of tax avoidance reacts to an exogenous change in tax rates. Our results support highly active income-shifting, and the apparent tax avoidance behavior has considerable welfare effects. We also find evidence that costs related to income-shifting behavior affect the effectiveness of taxation.

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Paper provided by Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT) in its series Working Papers with number 43.

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Date of creation: 14 Jan 2013
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Handle: RePEc:fer:wpaper:43
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  1. Piketty, Thomas & Saez, Emmanuel & Stantcheva, Stefanie, 2011. "Optimal Taxation of Top Labor Incomes: A Tale of Three Elasticities," CEPR Discussion Papers 8675, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Blomquist, Sören & Selin, Håkan, 2010. "Hourly wage rate and taxable labor income responsiveness to changes in marginal tax rates," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 878-889, December.
  3. Jukka Pirttilä & Håkan Selin, 2011. "Income Shifting within a Dual Income Tax System: Evidence from the Finnish Tax Reform of 1993," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 113(1), pages 120-144, 03.
  4. Chetty, Nadarajan, 2012. "Bounds on Elasticities With Optimization Frictions: A Synthesis of Micro and Macro Evidence on Labor Supply," Scholarly Articles 9748524, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Chetty, Nadarajan, 2009. "Is the Taxable Income Elasticity Sufficient to Calculate Deadweight Loss? The Implications of Evasion and Avoidance," Scholarly Articles 9748527, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Seppo Kari & Hanna Karikallio & Jukka Pirttilä, 2008. "Anticipating Tax Changes: Evidence from the Finnish Corporate Income Tax Reform of 2005," Discussion Papers 447, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT).
  7. Erik Fjaerli & Diderik Lund, 2001. "The choice between owner's wages and dividends under the dual income tax," Finnish Economic Papers, Finnish Economic Association, vol. 14(2), pages 104-119, Autumn.
  8. Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "Do Taxpayers Bunch at Kink Points?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 180-212, August.
  9. Vidar Christiansen & Matti Tuomala, 2008. "On taxing capital income with income shifting," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 527-545, August.
  10. le Maire, Daniel & Schjerning, Bertel, 2013. "Tax bunching, income shifting and self-employment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 1-18.
  11. Martin Feldstein, 1999. "Tax Avoidance And The Deadweight Loss Of The Income Tax," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 674-680, November.
  12. Nielsen, Soren Bo & Sorensen, Peter Birch, 1997. "On the optimality of the Nordic system of dual income taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 311-329, February.
  13. Seppo Kari & Hanna Karikallio & Jukka Pirttilä, 2009. "The impact of dividend taxation on dividends and investment: New evidence based on a natural experiment," Working Papers 9, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT).
  14. Emmanuel Saez & Joel Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2012. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(1), pages 3-50, March.
  15. Austan Goolsbee, 2000. "What Happens When You Tax the Rich? Evidence from Executive Compensation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(2), pages 352-378, April.
  16. Sivadasan, Jagadeesh & Slemrod, Joel, 2008. "Tax law changes, income-shifting and measured wage inequality: Evidence from India," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 2199-2224, October.
  17. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Tore Olsen & Luigi Pistaferri, 2011. "Adjustment Costs, Firm Responses, and Micro vs. Macro Labor Supply Elasticities: Evidence from Danish Tax Records," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 749-804.
  18. Jon Gruber & Emmanuel Saez, 2000. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income: Evidence and Implications," NBER Working Papers 7512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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