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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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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
Date of revision:
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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