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Household Behavior and the Tax Reform Act of 1986

  • Jerry A. Hausman
  • James M. Poterba

This paper evaluates the effects of the 1986 Tax Reform Act on household labor supply and savings. It describes the tax bill's effects on incentives to work and to save, and uses recent econometric estimates of labor supply and savings elasticities to describe the reform's impact on household behavior. Two factors lead us to conclude that the new law will have small aggregate effects. First, most households experience only small changes in their marginal tax rates. Forty-one percent of the taxpaying population will face marginal tax rates as high, or higher, under the new law as under the previous tax code. Only eleven percent of taxpayers receive marginal tax rate reductions of ten percentage points or more. Second, plausible estimates of both the labor supply and savings elasticities suggest that even for those households that receive rate reductions, behavioral changes will be small. Our analysis suggests that the tax reform will increase labor supply by about one percent, and slightly reduce private savings.

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Paper provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 437.

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Date of creation: Dec 1986
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mit:worpap:437
Contact details of provider: Postal: MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (MIT), DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMICS, 50 MEMORIAL DRIVE CAMBRIDGE MASSACHUSETTS 02142 USA
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Web page: http://econ-www.mit.edu/

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  1. Alan J. Auerbach & James M. Poterba, 1986. "Why Have Corporate Tax Revenues Declined?," Working papers 435, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. James M. Poterba & Lawrence H. Summers, 1984. "The Economic Effects of Dividend Taxation," Working papers 343, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Lawrence H. Summers, 1982. "Tax Policy, the Rate of Return, and Savings," NBER Working Papers 0995, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. King, Mervyn & Leape, Jonathan, 1985. "Wealth and Portfolio Composition: Theory and Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 43, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Hausman, Jerry A., 1985. "Taxes and labor supply," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 213-263 Elsevier.
  6. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521299169 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Michael J. Boskin & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Douglas J. Puffert & John B. Shoven, 1986. "Social Security: A Financial Appraisal Across and Within Generations," NBER Working Papers 1891, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Hausman, Jerry & Ruud, Paul, 1984. "Family Labor Supply with Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 242-48, May.
  9. Daniel R. Feenberg & Harvey S. Rosen, 1980. "Alternative Tax Treatments of the Family: Simulation Methodology and Results," NBER Working Papers 0497, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Hansen, Lars Peter & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1983. "Stochastic Consumption, Risk Aversion, and the Temporal Behavior of Asset Returns," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(2), pages 249-65, April.
  11. Yolanda K. Henderson, 1986. "Lessons from federal reform of business taxes," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Nov, pages 9-25.
  12. Boskin, Michael J, 1978. "Taxation, Saving, and the Rate of Interest," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(2), pages S3-27, April.
  13. MaCurdy, Thomas E, 1981. "An Empirical Model of Labor Supply in a Life-Cycle Setting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(6), pages 1059-85, December.
  14. Diamond, P. A. & Hausman, J. A., 1984. "Individual retirement and savings behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1-2), pages 81-114.
  15. Summers, Lawrence H, 1981. "Capital Taxation and Accumulation in a Life Cycle Growth Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 533-44, September.
  16. Fumio Hayashi, 1985. "Tests for Liquidity Constraints: A Critical Survey," NBER Working Papers 1720, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Robert E. Hall, 1985. "Real Interest and Consumption," NBER Working Papers 1694, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Michael J. Boskin, 1978. "Taxation, Saving, and the Rate of Interest," NBER Chapters, in: Research in Taxation, pages 3-27 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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