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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
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fer:wpaper:43
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  1. Jon Gruber & Emmanuel Saez, 2000. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income: Evidence and Implications," NBER Working Papers 7512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. Raj Chetty, 2009. "Bounds on Elasticities with Optimization Frictions: A Synthesis of Micro and Macro Evidence on Labor Supply," NBER Working Papers 15616, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "Do Taxpayers Bunch at Kink Points?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 180-212, August.
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  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. Jagadeesh Sivadasan & Joel Slemrod, 2006. "Tax Law Changes, Income Shifting and Measured Wage Inequality: Evidence from India," NBER Working Papers 12240, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Blomquist, Sören & Selin, Håkan, 2008. "Hourly Wage Rate and Taxable Labor Income Responsiveness to Changes in Marginal Tax Rates," Working Paper Series 2008:16, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  12. 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.
  13. Martin Feldstein, 1995. "Tax Avoidance and the Deadweight Loss of the Income Tax," NBER Working Papers 5055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  15. Austan Goolsbee, 1997. "What Happens When You Tax the Rich? Evidence from Executive Compensation," NBER Working Papers 6333, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. le Maire, Daniel & Schjerning, Bertel, 2013. "Tax bunching, income shifting and self-employment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 1-18.
  17. 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.
  18. Emmanuel Saez & Joel B. Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2009. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review," NBER Working Papers 15012, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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