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Smooth Income Tax Schedules: Derivation and Consequences

Author

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  • Estévez Schwarz, Diana

    () (Beuth University of Applied Sciences)

  • Sommer, Eric

    () (IZA)

Abstract

Existing tax schedules are often overly complex and characterized by discontinuities in the marginal tax burden. In this paper we propose a class of progressive smooth functions to replace personal income tax schedules. These functions depend only on three meaningful parameters, and avoid the drawbacks of defining tax schedules through various tax brackets. Based on representative micro data, we derive revenue-neutral parameters for four different types of tax regimes (Austria, Germany, Hungary and Spain). We then analyze possible implications from a hypothetical switch to smoother income tax tariffs. We find that smooth tax functions eliminate the most extreme cases of bracket creep, while the impact on income inequality is mostly negligible, but uniformly reducing.

Suggested Citation

  • Estévez Schwarz, Diana & Sommer, Eric, 2018. "Smooth Income Tax Schedules: Derivation and Consequences," IZA Discussion Papers 11493, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11493
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Peter Diamond & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "The Case for a Progressive Tax: From Basic Research to Policy Recommendations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 165-190, Fall.
    2. Holly Sutherland & Ruth Hancock & John Hills & Francesca Zantomio, 2008. "Keeping up or Falling behind? The Impact of Benefit and Tax Uprating on Incomes and Poverty," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 29(4), pages 467-498, December.
    3. Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "Do Taxpayers Bunch at Kink Points?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 180-212, August.
    4. Herwig Immervoll, 2005. "Falling Up The Stairs: The Effects Of "Bracket Creep" On Household Incomes," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 51(1), pages 37-62, March.
    5. Olivier Bargain & Kristian Orsini & Andreas Peichl, 2014. "Comparing Labor Supply Elasticities in Europe and the United States: New Results," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 49(3), pages 723-838.
    6. Holly Sutherland & Francesco Figari, 2013. "EUROMOD: the European Union tax-benefit microsimulation model," International Journal of Microsimulation, International Microsimulation Association, vol. 1(6), pages 4-26.
    7. Isabelle Joumard & Mauro Pisu & Debbie Bloch, 2012. "Tackling income inequality: The role of taxes and transfers," OECD Journal: Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2012(1), pages 37-70.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    personal income taxation; income distribution; nonlinear smooth tax tariff; microsimulation;

    JEL classification:

    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • C63 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Computational Techniques

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