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Taxpayer confusion over predictable tax liability changes: evidence from the Child Tax Credit


  • Naomi E. Feldman
  • Peter Katuscak
  • Laura Kawano


We develop a model of how taxpayers update beliefs over their tax rates when they encounter a non-salient tax liability change. We test the model's hypotheses using the loss of the Child Tax Credit when a child turns 17. Because this tax liability change is lump-sum and predictable, there should be no reaction in labor income if taxpayers are fully informed. Using this age discontinuity, we find, however, that losing the credit reduces household labor income. This finding suggests that taxpayers misperceive the source of tax liability changes, leading to under- or over-reactions to changes in marginal tax rates.

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  • Naomi E. Feldman & Peter Katuscak & Laura Kawano, 2013. "Taxpayer confusion over predictable tax liability changes: evidence from the Child Tax Credit," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2013-66, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2013-66

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James J. Heckman & Sergio Urzua & Edward Vytlacil, 2006. "Understanding Instrumental Variables in Models with Essential Heterogeneity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(3), pages 389-432, August.
    2. Peter Kuhn & Mikal Skuterud, 2004. "Internet Job Search and Unemployment Durations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 218-232, March.
    3. Peter Kuhn & Hani Mansour, 2014. "Is Internet Job Search Still Ineffective?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(581), pages 1213-1233, December.
    4. Betsey Stevenson, 2009. "The Internet and Job Search," NBER Chapters,in: Studies of Labor Market Intermediation, pages 67-86 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jason Abaluck & Jonathan Gruber & Ashley Swanson, 2015. "Prescription Drug Use under Medicare Part D: A Linear Model of Nonlinear Budget Sets," NBER Working Papers 20976, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Dayanand S. Manoli & Nicholas Turner, 2014. "Nudges and Learning: Evidence from Informational Interventions for Low-Income Taxpayers," NBER Working Papers 20718, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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