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Employment, hours of work and the optimal taxation of low income families

  • Richard Blundell

    ()

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and IFS and UCL)

  • Andrew Shephard

    ()

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Pennsylvania)

This paper examines the tax schedule for low income families with children. We take an optimal tax approach based on a structural labour supply model which incorporates unobserved heterogeneity, fixed costs of work, childcare costs and the detailed non-convexities of the tax and transfer system. The motivation is the British earned income tax credit reform (WFTC) and its interaction with the tax and transfer system for lone parents. Our analysis also examines the case for the use of hours-contingent payments. The results point to a tax schedule which depends on the age of children, with tax credits only optimal for low earners with school age children. The results also suggest a welfare improving role for hours-contingent payments although this is mitigated when hours cannot be monitored or recorded accurately by the tax authorities.

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File URL: http://www.ifs.org.uk/wps/wp0801.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W08/01.

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Length: 59 pp.
Date of creation: 28 Jan 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:08/01
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  1. Emmanuel Saez, 2001. "Using Elasticities to Derive Optimal Income Tax Rates," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(1), pages 205-229.
  2. 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.
  3. Hoynes, Hilary Williamson, 1996. "Welfare Transfers in Two-Parent Families: Labor Supply and Welfare Participation under AFDC-UP," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(2), pages 295-332, March.
  4. Richard Blundell & Thomas MaCurdy, 1998. "Labour supply: a review of alternative approaches," IFS Working Papers W98/18, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  5. Immervoll, Herwig & Kleven, Henrik Jacobsen & Kreiner, Claus Thustrup & Saez, Emmanuel, 2004. "Welfare reform in European countries: a micro-simulation analysis," EUROMOD Working Papers EM1/04, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  6. John Creedy & Guyonne Kalb & Rosanna Scutella, 2003. "Discrete Hours Labour Supply Modelling: Specification, Estimation and Simulation," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2003n21, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  7. Richard Dickens & David T. Ellwood, 2001. "Whither Poverty in Great Britain and the United States? The Determinants of Changing Poverty and Whether Work Will Work," NBER Working Papers 8253, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Guy Laroque, 2005. "Income Maintenance and Labor Force Participation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(2), pages 341-376, 03.
  9. Mike Brewer, 2001. "Comparing in-work benefits and the reward to work for families with children in the US and the UK," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 22(1), pages 41-77, January.
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  11. Diamond, P., 1980. "Income taxation with fixed hours of work," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 101-110, February.
  12. Moffitt, Robert, 1983. "An Economic Model of Welfare Stigma," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 1023-35, December.
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  14. Chone, Philippe & Laroque, Guy, 2005. "Optimal incentives for labor force participation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 395-425, February.
  15. Jon Gruber & Emmanuel Saez, 2000. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income: Evidence and Implications," NBER Working Papers 7512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Keane, Michael P, 1992. "A Note on Identification in the Multinomial Probit Model," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 10(2), pages 193-200, April.
  17. Michael P. Keane & Robert A. Moffitt, 1995. "A structural model of multiple welfare program participation and labor supply," Working Papers 557, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  18. Beaudry, Paul & Blackorby, Charles, 2006. "Taxes and Employment Subsidies in Optimal Redistribution Programs," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 766, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  19. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1992. "Workfare versus Welfare Incentive Arguments for Work Requirements in Poverty-Alleviation Programs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 249-61, March.
  20. Kenneth Train, 2003. "Discrete Choice Methods with Simulation," Online economics textbooks, SUNY-Oswego, Department of Economics, number emetr2.
  21. van Soest, Arthur & Das, Marcel & Gong, Xiaodong, 2002. "A structural labour supply model with flexible preferences," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 107(1-2), pages 345-374, March.
  22. Beaudry, Paul & Blackorby, Charles & Szalay, Dezso, 2006. "Taxes and Employment Subsidies in Optimal Redistribution Programs (Revised Version)," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 779, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  23. Phelps, Edmund S, 1994. "Low-Wage Employment Subsidies versus the Welfare State," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 54-58, May.
  24. Richard Blundell & Monica Costa Dias, 2000. "Evaluation methods for non-experimental data," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 21(4), pages 427-468, January.
  25. Brewer, Mike & Duncan, Alan & Shephard, Andrew & Suarez, Maria Jose, 2006. "Did working families' tax credit work? The impact of in-work support on labour supply in Great Britain," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(6), pages 699-720, December.
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