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Is the EITC Equivalent to an NIT? Conditional Cash Transfers and Tax Incidence

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  • Jesse Rothstein

Abstract

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is intended to encourage work. But EITC-induced increases in labor supply may drive wages down, shifting the intended transfer toward employers. I simulate the economic incidence of the EITC under a range of plausible supply and demand elasticities. In all of the scenarios that I consider, a substantial portion of the intended transfer to low income single mothers is captured by employers through reduced wages. The transfer to employers is borne in part by low skill workers who are not themselves eligible for the EITC and are therefore made strictly worse off by its existence. I contrast the EITC with a traditional Negative Income Tax (NIT). The NIT discourages work, and so induces large transfers from employers of low skill labor to their workers. With my preferred parameters the EITC increases after-tax incomes by $0.73 per dollar spent, while the NIT yields $1.39.

Suggested Citation

  • Jesse Rothstein, 2009. "Is the EITC Equivalent to an NIT? Conditional Cash Transfers and Tax Incidence," NBER Working Papers 14966, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14966
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    Cited by:

    1. Turner, Nick, 2010. "Who Benefits From Student Aid? The Economic Incidence of Tax-Based Federal Student Aid," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt7g0888mj, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand

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