Can State Taxes Redistribute Income?
The evidence presented in this paper supports the basic theoretical presumption that state and local governments cannot redistribute income. Since individuals can avoid unfavorable taxes by migrating to jurisdictions that offer more favorable tax conditions, a relatively unfavorable tax will cause gross wages to adjust until the resulting net wage is equal to that available elsewhere. The current empirical findings go beyond confirming this long-run tendency and show that gross wages adjust rapidly to the changing tax environment. Thus, states cannot redistribute income for a period of even a few years. The adjustment of gross wages to tax rates implies that a more progressive tax system raises the cost to firms of hiring more highly skilled employees and reduces the cost of lower skilled labor. A more progressive tax thus induces firms to hire fewer high skilled employees and to hire more low skilled employees. Since state taxes cannot alter net wages, there can be no trade-off at the state level between distribution goals and economic efficiency. Shifts in state tax progressivity, by altering the structure of employment in the state and distorting the mix of labor inputs used by firms in the state, create deadweight efficiency losses without achieving any net redistribution.
|Date of creation:||1994|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||Published in Journal of Public Economics|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Littauer Center, Cambridge, MA 02138|
Web page: http://www.economics.harvard.edu/
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Wallace, Sally, 1993. "The effects of state personal income tax differentials on wages," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 611-628, November.
- Metcalf, Gilbert & Feldstein, Martin, 1987.
"The Effect of Federal Tax Deductibility on State and Local Taxes and Spending,"
2766699, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Feldstein, Martin S & Metcalf, Gilbert E, 1987. "The Effect of Federal Tax Deductibility on State and Local Taxes and Spending," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(4), pages 710-36, August.
- Martin Feldstein & Gilbert Metcalf, 1986. "The Effect of Federal Tax Deductibility on State and Local Taxes and Spending," NBER Working Papers 1791, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- David Card, 1992. "The Effect of Unions on the Distribution of Wages: Redistribution or Relabelling?," NBER Working Papers 4195, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Gordon, Roger H, 1986. "Taxation of Investment and Savings in a World Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1086-1102, December.
- Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416.
- Feldstein, Martin, 1995.
"The Effect of Marginal Tax Rates on Taxable Income: A Panel Study of the 1986 Tax Reform Act,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 551-72, June.
- Martin Feldstein, 1993. "The Effect of Marginal Tax Rates on Taxable Income: A Panel Study of the1986 Tax Reform Act," NBER Working Papers 4496, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Gyourko, Joseph & Tracy, Joseph, 1989.
"The Importance of Local Fiscal Conditions in Analyzing Local Labor Markets,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1208-31, October.
- Joseph Gyourko & Joseph S. Tracy, 1986. "The Importance of Local Fiscal Conditions in Analyzing Local Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 2040, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hrv:faseco:2799054. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Office for Scholarly Communication)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.