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Removing the Disincentives in Social Security for Long Careers

  • Gopi Shah Goda
  • John B. Shoven
  • Sita Nataraj Slavov

Implicit taxes in Social Security, which measure Social Security contributions net of benefits accrued as a percentage of earnings, tend to increase over the life cycle. In this paper, we examine the effects of three potential policy changes on implicit Social Security tax rates: extending the number of years used in the Social Security formula from 35 to 40; allowing individuals who have worked more than 40 years to be exempt from payroll taxes; and distinguishing between lifetime low-income earners and high-income earners who work short careers. These three changes can be achieved in a benefit- and revenue-neutral manner, and create a pattern of implicit tax rates that are much less distortionary over the life cycle, eliminating the high implicit tax rates faced by many elderly workers. The effects of these policies on progressivity and women are also examined.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13110.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13110.

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Date of creation: May 2007
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Publication status: published as Removing the Disincentives in Social Security for Long Careers , Gopi Shah Goda, John B. Shoven, Sita Nataraj Slavov. in Social Security Policy in a Changing Environment , Brown, Liebman, and Wise. 2009
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13110
Note: AG
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  1. Feldstein, Martin & Samwick, Andrew A., 1992. "Social Security Rules and Marginal Tax Rates," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, March.
  2. Gary Burtless & Joseph F. Quinn, 2002. "Is Working Longer the Answer for an Aging Workforce?," Issues in Brief ib2002-11, Center for Retirement Research, revised Dec 2002.
  3. Butrica, Barbara A. & Johnson, Richard W. & Smith, Karen E. & Steuerle, C. Eugene, 2006. "The Implicit Tax on Work at Older Ages," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 59(2), pages 211-34, June.
  4. Robert Fenge & Silke Uebelmesser & Martin Werding, 2002. "Second-best Properties of Implicit Social Security Taxes: Theory and Empirical Evidence," CESifo Working Paper Series 743, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324 Elsevier.
  6. Jonathan Gruber & David Wise, 1997. "Social Security Programs and Retirement Around the World: Introduction and Summary of Papers by..," NBER Working Papers 6134, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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