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Tax Progressivity and Top Incomes: Evidence from Tax Reforms

Author

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  • Rubolino, Enrico

    (Uppsala University)

  • Waldenström, Daniel

    (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))

Abstract

We study the link between tax progressivity and top income shares. Using variation from large-scale Western tax reforms in the 1980s and 1990s and the novel synthetic control method, we find large and lasting boosting impacts on top income shares from the progressivity reductions. Effects are largest in the very top groups while earners in the bottom half of the top decile were almost unaffected by the reforms. Cuts in top marginal tax rates account for most of this outcome whereas reduced overall progressivity contributed less. Searching for mechanisms, real income responses as measured by growth in aggregate GDP per capita, registered patents and tax revenues were unaffected by the reforms. By contrast, tax avoidance behavior related to the management of capital incomes in the very income top appears to lie behind the observed effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Rubolino, Enrico & Waldenström, Daniel, 2017. "Tax Progressivity and Top Incomes: Evidence from Tax Reforms," Working Paper Series 1161, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:1161
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    Cited by:

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    2. Matthias Krapf & David Staubli, 2020. "The Corporate Elasticity of Taxable Income: Event Study Evidence from Switzerland," CESifo Working Paper Series 8715, CESifo.
    3. Enrico Rubolino & Daniel Waldenström, 2019. "Trends and gradients in top tax elasticities: cross-country evidence, 1900–2014," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 26(3), pages 457-485, June.
    4. Advani, Arun & Koenig, Felix & Pessina, Lorenzo & Summers, Andy, 2020. "Importing Inequality: Immigration and the Top 1 Percent," IZA Discussion Papers 13731, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Pierce O’Reilly, 2018. "Tax policies for inclusive growth in a changing world," OECD Taxation Working Papers 40, OECD Publishing.
    6. Julia Tanndal & Daniel Waldenström, 2018. "Does Financial Deregulation Boost Top Incomes? Evidence from the Big Bang," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 85(338), pages 232-265, April.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Income inequality; Tax policy;

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance

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