IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Elasticity of Taxable Income: Estimates and Flat Tax Predictions Using the Hungarian Tax Changes in 2005

  • Péter Bakos

    (Royal Bank of Scotland)

  • Péter Benczúr


    (Magyar Nemzeti Bank, Central European University.)

  • Dóra Benedek


    (Central European University, Ministry of Finance.)

Many Central and Eastern European countries are adopting flat tax schemes in order to boost their economies and tax revenues. Though there are signs that some countries do manage to improve on both fronts, it is in general hard to distinguish the behavioral response to tax changes from the effect of increased tax enforcement. This paper addresses this gap by estimating the elasticity of taxable income in Hungary, one of the outliers in terms of not having a flat tax scheme. We analyze taxpayer behavior using a medium-scale tax reform episode in 2005, which changed marginal and average tax rates but kept enforcement constant. We employ a Tax and Financial Control Administration (APEH) panel dataset between 2004 and 2005 with roughly 215,000 taxpayers. Our results suggest a relatively small but highly significant tax price elasticity of about 0.06 for the population earning above the minimum wage (around 70% of all taxpayers). This number increases to around 0.3 when we focus on the upper 20% of the income distribution, with some income groups exhibiting even higher elasticities (0.45). We first demonstrate that such an elasticity substantially modifies the response of government revenues to the 2004-2005 tax changes, and then quantify the impact of a hypothetical flat income tax scheme. Our calculations indicate that though there is room for a parallel improvement of budget revenues and after-tax income, those gains are modest (2% and 1.4%, respectively). Moreover, such a reform involves important adverse changes in income inequality, and its burden falls mostly on lower-middle income taxpayers.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Magyar Nemzeti Bank (the central bank of Hungary) in its series MNB Working Papers with number 2008/7.

in new window

Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mnb:wpaper:2008/7
Contact details of provider: Web page:

More information through EDIRC

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mnb:wpaper:2008/7. 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: (Maja Bajcsy)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.