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Taxpayer Search for Information: Implications for Rational Attention

  • Jeffrey Hoopes
  • Daniel Reck
  • Joel Slemrod

We examine novel data on searches for capital-gains-tax-related information to determine when and how taxpayers acquire information. We find strong seasonal increases in information search around tax filing deadlines, suggesting that taxpayers seek information to comply with tax laws. Positive correlations between stock market activity and information search and year-end spikes in information search on capital losses suggest that taxpayers seek information for tax planning purposes. Policy changes and news events cause noteworthy information search. Overall, these data suggest that taxpayers are not always fully informed, but that rational attention and exogenous shocks to tax salience drive taxpayer information search.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w19482.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19482.

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Date of creation: Sep 2013
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Publication status: published as Jeffrey L. Hoopes & Daniel H. Reck & Joel Slemrod, 2015. "Taxpayer Search for Information: Implications for Rational Attention," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 177-208, August.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19482
Note: ME PE
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  1. Keppo, Jussi & Moscarini, Giuseppe & Smith, Lones, 2008. "The demand for information: More heat than light," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 138(1), pages 21-50, January.
  2. Laura T. Starks & Li Yong & Lu Zheng, 2006. "Tax-Loss Selling and the January Effect: Evidence from Municipal Bond Closed-End Funds," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(6), pages 3049-3067, December.
  3. Chang, Eric C. & Pinegar, J. Michael, 1986. "Return seasonality and tax-loss selling in the market for long-term government and corporate bonds," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 391-415, December.
  4. Michael S. Drake & Darren T. Roulstone & Jacob R. Thornock, 2012. "Investor Information Demand: Evidence from Google Searches Around Earnings Announcements," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(4), pages 1001-1040, 09.
  5. Jonah B. Gelbach & Eric Helland & Jonathan Klick, 2013. "Valid Inference in Single-Firm, Single-Event Studies," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(2), pages 495-541.
  6. James M. Poterba & Scott J. Weisbenner, 1998. "Capital Gains Tax Rules, Tax Loss Trading and Turn-of-the-Year Returns," NBER Working Papers 6616, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Robinson, Peter M, 1988. "Root- N-Consistent Semiparametric Regression," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(4), pages 931-54, July.
  8. de Bartolome, Charles A.M., 1991. "Which Tax Rate Do People Use: Average or Marginal?," Working Papers 91-49, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
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