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Temporary Income Taxes and Consumer Spending

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  • Alan S. Blinder

Abstract

Both economic theory and casual empirical observation of the U.S. economy suggest that spending propensities from temporary tax changes are smaller than those from permanent ones, but neither provides much guidance about the magnitude of this difference. This paper offers new empirical estimates of this difference and finds it to he quite substantial. The analysis is based on an amendment of the standard distributed lag version of the permanent in-conic hypothesis that distinguishes temporary taxes from other income on the grounds that the former are "more transitory." This amendment, which is broadly consistent with rational expectations, leads to a nonlinear consumption function. Though the standard error is unavoidably large, the point estimate suggests that a temporary tax change is treated as a 50-50 blend of a normal income tax change and a pure windfall. Over a 1-year planning horizon, a temporary tax change is estimated to have only a little more than half the impact of a permanent tax change of equal magnitude, and a rebate is estimated to have only about 38 percent of the impact.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan S. Blinder, 1978. "Temporary Income Taxes and Consumer Spending," NBER Working Papers 0283, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0283
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    1. Hall, Robert E, 1978. "Stochastic Implications of the Life Cycle-Permanent Income Hypothesis: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 971-987, December.
    2. Darby, Michael R, 1972. "The Allocation of Transitory Income Among Consumers' Assets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 928-941, December.
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    4. Eisner, Robert, 1969. "Fiscal and Monetary Policy Reconsidered," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(5), pages 897-905, December.
    5. Blinder, Alan S, 1975. "Distribution Effects and the Aggregate Consumption Function," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(3), pages 447-475, June.
    6. Dolde, Walter, 1976. "Forecasting the Consumption Effects of Stabilization Policies," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 17(2), pages 431-446, June.
    7. Sargent, Thomas J, 1978. "Rational Expectations, Econometric Exogeneity, and Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(4), pages 673-700, August.
    8. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
    9. 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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