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The elasticity of taxable income of high earners: Evidence from Hungary

  • Áron Kiss


    (Magyar Nemzeti Bank (central bank of Hungary))

  • Pálma Mosberger


    (Central European University)

The paper studies how high-income taxpayers responded to the introduction of the ‘extraordinary tax on individuals’ in Hungary in 2007. The study is based on a panel of tax returns compiled by the Hungarian Tax Authority for the purposes of this study, containing information on 10 percent of tax-filers from 2005 and three subsequent years. We estimate the elasticity of taxable income with respect to the marginal net-of-tax rate and find that the taxable income of Hungarian high earners is moderately responsive to taxation: the estimated elasticity is about 0.2. This means that if the upper tax rate of the 2010 Hungarian tax system were increased by a small amount, the behavioral response of taxpayers would reduce the additional tax revenue by about 60 percent. We find evidence suggesting that the elasticity is a reflection of a labor supply response to the tax change on the intensive margin, and not a reflection of tax shifting, avoidance or evasion.

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Paper provided by Magyar Nemzeti Bank (Central Bank of Hungary) in its series MNB Working Papers with number 2011/11.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mnb:wpaper:2011/11
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  1. Feldstein, Martin, 1995. "Effect of Marginal Tax Rates on Taxable Income: A Panel Study of the 1986 Tax Reform Act," Scholarly Articles 2766676, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  5. Péter Bakos & Péter Benczúr & Dora Benedek, 2008. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income: Estimates and Flat Tax Predictions using the Hungarian Tax Changes in 2005," RSCAS Working Papers 2008/32, European University Institute.
  6. Christopher F Baum & Mark E. Schaffer & Steven Stillman, 2007. "Enhanced routines for instrumental variables/generalized method of moments estimation and testing," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 7(4), pages 465-506, December.
  7. Blomquist, Sören & Selin, Håkan, 2010. "Hourly wage rate and taxable labor income responsiveness to changes in marginal tax rates," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 878-889, December.
  8. Jon Gruber & Emmanuel Saez, 2000. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income: Evidence and Implications," NBER Working Papers 7512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Jukka Pirttilä & Håkan Selin, 2011. "Income Shifting within a Dual Income Tax System: Evidence from the Finnish Tax Reform of 1993," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 113(1), pages 120-144, 03.
  10. Austan Goolsbee, 1997. "What Happens When You Tax the Rich? Evidence from Executive Compensation," NBER Working Papers 6333, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Emmanuel Saez & Joel Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2012. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(1), pages 3-50, March.
  12. 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.
  13. Chetty, Nadarajan, 2009. "Is the Taxable Income Elasticity Sufficient to Calculate Deadweight Loss? The Implications of Evasion and Avoidance," Scholarly Articles 9748527, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  15. Seth H. Giertz, 2004. "Recent Literature on Taxable-Income Elasticities: Technical Paper 2004-16," Working Papers 16189, Congressional Budget Office.
  16. Sillamaa, Mary-Anne & Veall, Michael R., 2001. "The effect of marginal tax rates on taxable income: a panel study of the 1988 tax flattening in Canada," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 341-356, June.
  17. Bertil Holmlund & Martin Söderström, 2007. "Estimating Income Responses to Tax Changes: A Dynamic Panel Data Approach," CESifo Working Paper Series 2121, CESifo Group Munich.
  18. Thor O. Thoresen & Karl Ove Aarbu, 1999. "Income Responses to Tax Changes - Evidence from the Norwegian Tax Reform," Discussion Papers 260, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
  19. Emmanuel Saez & Michael R. Veall, 2005. "The Evolution of High Incomes in Northern America: Lessons from Canadian Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 831-849, June.
  20. Gerald Auten & Robert Carroll, 1999. "The Effect Of Income Taxes On Household Income," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 681-693, November.
  21. Slemrod, Joel, 1998. "Methodological Issues in Measuring and Interpreting Taxable Income Elasticities," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 51(n. 4), pages 773-88, December.
  22. Martin Feldstein, 1995. "Tax Avoidance and the Deadweight Loss of the Income Tax," NBER Working Papers 5055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Péter Benczúr & Gábor Kátay & Áron Kiss, 2012. "Assessing changes of the Hungarian tax and transfer system: A general-equilibrium microsimulation approach," MNB Working Papers 2012/7, Magyar Nemzeti Bank (Central Bank of Hungary).
  24. Åsa Hansson, 2007. "Taxpayers' responsiveness to tax rate changes and implications for the cost of taxation in Sweden," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 14(5), pages 563-582, October.
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