IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/13844.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Is the Taxable Income Elasticity Sufficient to Calculate Deadweight Loss? The Implications of Evasion and Avoidance

Author

Listed:
  • Raj Chetty

Abstract

Since Feldstein (1999), the most widely used method of calculating the excess burden of income taxation is to estimate the effect of tax rates on reported taxable income. This paper reevaluates the taxable income elasticity as a measure of excess burden when individuals can evade or avoid taxes. In many cases, part of the cost of evasion and avoidance reflects a transfer to another agent in the economy. I show that in such situations, excess burden depends on a weighted average of the taxable income and total earned income elasticities, with the weight determined by the marginal resource cost of sheltering income from taxation. This generalized formula implies that the efficiency cost of taxing high income individuals is not necessarily large despite evidence that their reported incomes are highly sensitive to tax rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Raj Chetty, 2008. "Is the Taxable Income Elasticity Sufficient to Calculate Deadweight Loss? The Implications of Evasion and Avoidance," NBER Working Papers 13844, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13844
    Note: LS PE
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13844.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Austan Goolsbee, 2000. "What Happens When You Tax the Rich? Evidence from Executive Compensation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(2), pages 352-378, April.
    2. Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Klara Sabirianova Peter, 2009. "Myth and Reality of Flat Tax Reform: Micro Estimates of Tax Evasion Response and Welfare Effects in Russia," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(3), pages 504-554, June.
    3. Slemrod, Joel, 1995. "Income Creation or Income Shifting? Behavioral Responses to the Tax Reform Act of 1986," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 175-180, May.
    4. Adam Looney & Monica Singhal, 2005. "The effect of anticipated tax changes on intertemporal labor supply and the realization of taxable income," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2005-44, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    5. Raj Chetty, 2009. "Sufficient Statistics for Welfare Analysis: A Bridge Between Structural and Reduced-Form Methods," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 451-488, May.
    6. Kaplow, Louis, 1990. "Optimal taxation with costly enforcement and evasion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 221-236, November.
    7. Roger H. Gordon & Joel Slemrod, 1998. "Are "Real" Responses to Taxes Simply Income Shifting Between Corporate and Personal Tax Bases?," NBER Working Papers 6576, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Joel Slemrod, 2001. "A General Model of the Behavioral Response to Taxation," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 8(2), pages 119-128, March.
    9. Lindsey, Lawrence B., 1987. "Individual taxpayer response to tax cuts: 1982-1984 : With implications for the revenue maximizing tax rate," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 173-206, July.
    10. Joel Slemrod, 2007. "Cheating Ourselves: The Economics of Tax Evasion," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(1), pages 25-48, Winter.
    11. 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 551-572, June.
    12. Martin Feldstein, 1999. "Tax Avoidance And The Deadweight Loss Of The Income Tax," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 674-680, November.
    13. Mayshar, Joram, 1991. " Taxation with Costly Administration," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 93(1), pages 75-88.
    14. Feldstein, Martin S & Taylor, Amy, 1976. "The Income Tax and Charitable Contributions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(6), pages 1201-1222, November.
    15. Martin Feldstein, 2006. "The Effect of Taxes on Efficiency and Growth," NBER Working Papers 12201, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Pissarides, Christopher A. & Weber, Guglielmo, 1989. "An expenditure-based estimate of Britain's black economy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 17-32, June.
    17. Slemrod, Joel, 1998. "Methodological Issues in Measuring and Interpreting Taxable Income Elasticities," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 51(4), pages 773-788, December.
    18. Clotfelter, Charles T., 1985. "Federal Tax Policy and Charitable Giving," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226110486, December.
    19. Slemrod, Joel & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 2002. "Tax avoidance, evasion, and administration," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 22, pages 1423-1470, Elsevier.
    20. Clotfelter, Charles T, 1983. "Tax Evasion and Tax Rates: An Analysis of Individual Returns," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(3), pages 363-373, August.
    21. Gruber, Jon & Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "The elasticity of taxable income: evidence and implications," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 1-32, April.
    22. 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.
    23. Austan Goolsbee, 1999. "Evidence on the High-Income Laffer Curve from Six Decades of Tax Reform," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 30(2), pages 1-64.
    24. Auerbach,Alan J. & Hines, Jr.,James R. & Slemrod,Joel (ed.), 2007. "Taxing Corporate Income in the 21st Century," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521870221.
    25. 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 551-572, June.
    26. Emmanuel Saez, 2004. "Reported Incomes and Marginal Tax Rates, 1960–2000: Evidence and Policy Implications," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 18, pages 117-174, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    27. Allingham, Michael G. & Sandmo, Agnar, 1972. "Income tax evasion: a theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3-4), pages 323-338, November.
    28. Slemrod, Joel, 1992. "Do Taxes Matter? Lessons from the 1980's," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 250-256, May.
    29. Dahlby, Bev, 1998. "Progressive taxation and the social marginal cost of public funds," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 105-122, January.
    30. Charles T. Clotfelter, 1985. "Federal Tax Policy and Charitable Giving," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number clot85-1, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. 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.
    2. Kristoffer Berg & Thor O. Thoresen, 2020. "Problematic response margins in the estimation of the elasticity of taxable income," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 27(3), pages 721-752, June.
    3. Carina Neisser, 2021. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income: A Meta-Regression Analysis [The top 1% in international and historical perspective]," The Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 131(640), pages 3365-3391.
    4. Seth H. Giertz, 2004. "Recent Literature on Taxable-Income Elasticities: Technical Paper 2004-16," Working Papers 16189, Congressional Budget Office.
    5. Emmanuel Saez, 2004. "Reported Incomes and Marginal Tax Rates, 1960–2000: Evidence and Policy Implications," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 18, pages 117-174, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Philipp Doerrenberg & Andreas Peichl & Sebastian Siegloch, 2017. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income in the Presence of Deduction Possibilities," NBER Chapters, in: Personal Income Taxation and Household Behavior (TAPES), National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Gruber, Jon & Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "The elasticity of taxable income: evidence and implications," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 1-32, April.
    8. Doerrenberg, Philipp & Peichl, Andreas & Siegloch, Sebastian, 2014. "Sufficient Statistic or Not? The Elasticity of Taxable Income in the Presence of Deduction Possibilities," IZA Discussion Papers 8554, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Aspen Gorry & Kevin A. Hassett & R. Glenn Hubbard & Aparna Mathur, 2017. "The Response of Deferred Executive Compensation to Changes in Tax Rates," NBER Chapters, in: Personal Income Taxation and Household Behavior (TAPES), National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Soren Blomquist & Anil Kumar & Che-Yuan Liang & Whitney K. Newey, 2014. "Individual heterogeneity, nonlinear budget sets, and taxable income," CeMMAP working papers 21/14, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    11. Kopczuk, Wojciech, 2005. "Tax bases, tax rates and the elasticity of reported income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(11-12), pages 2093-2119, December.
    12. Slemrod, Joel & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 2002. "Tax avoidance, evasion, and administration," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 22, pages 1423-1470, Elsevier.
    13. Zhiyong An, 2023. "On the marginal cost of public funds: the implications of charitable giving and warm glow," Fiscal Studies, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 44(3), pages 299-307, September.
    14. Emmanuel Saez, 2017. "Taxing the Rich More: Preliminary Evidence from the 2013 Tax Increase," Tax Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 71-120.
    15. Karel Mertens & José Luis Montiel Olea, 2018. "Marginal Tax Rates and Income: New Time Series Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 133(4), pages 1803-1884.
    16. Frydman, Carola & Molloy, Raven S., 2011. "Does tax policy affect executive compensation? Evidence from postwar tax reforms," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1425-1437.
    17. Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Klara Sabirianova Peter, 2009. "Myth and Reality of Flat Tax Reform: Micro Estimates of Tax Evasion Response and Welfare Effects in Russia," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(3), pages 504-554, June.
    18. Jos順鬩x Sanz-Sanz & Mar𨁁rrazola-Vacas & Nuria Rueda-L󰥺 & Desiderio Romero-Jordᮠ, 2015. "Reported gross income and marginal tax rates: estimation of the behavioural reactions of Spanish taxpayers," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(5), pages 466-484, January.
    19. Zhiyong An, 2015. "On the sufficiency of using the elasticity of taxable income to calculate deadweight loss: the implications of charitable giving and warm glow," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 22(6), pages 1040-1047, December.
    20. Sanz-Sanz, José Félix, 2016. "The Laffer curve in schedular multi-rate income taxes with non-genuine allowances: An application to Spain," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 42-56.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13844. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    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 CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: the person in charge (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.