IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey Hoopes & Daniel Reck & Joel Slemrod, 2013. "Taxpayer Search for Information: Implications for Rational Attention," NBER Working Papers 19482, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19482
    Note: ME PE

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. Robinson, Peter M, 1988. "Root- N-Consistent Semiparametric Regression," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(4), pages 931-954, July.
    3. de Bartolome, Charles A. M., 1995. "Which tax rate do people use: Average or marginal?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 79-96, January.
    4. 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.
    5. James M. Poterba, 2001. "Capital Gains Tax Rules, Tax-loss Trading, and Turn-of-the-year Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(1), pages 353-368, February.
    6. 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.
    7. 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, September.
    8. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Alexander M. Gelber & Damon Jones & Daniel W. Sacks, 2013. "Earnings Adjustment Frictions: Evidence From Social Security Earnings Test," Working Papers 13-50, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    2. Jeffrey Hoopes & Patrick Langetieg & Stefan Nagel & Daniel Reck & Joel Slemrod & Bryan Stuart, 2016. "Who Sold During the Crash of 2008-9? Evidence from Tax-Return Data on Daily Sales of Stock," NBER Working Papers 22209, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Sommer, Eric, 2017. "Wealth Transfers and Tax Planning: Evidence for the German Bequest Tax," IZA Discussion Papers 11120, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Jonathan D. Hall & Craig Palsson & Joseph Price, 2017. "Is Uber a substitute or complement for public transit?," Working Papers tecipa-585, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    5. Salim Nuhu Ahmed & John M. Musah, 2018. "On asymmetric information and tax morale in developing countries," WIDER Working Paper Series 012, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    6. Youssef Benzarti, 2017. "How Taxing Is Tax Filing? Using Revealed Preferences to Estimate Compliance Costs," NBER Working Papers 23903, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Alexander M. Gelber & Damon Jones & Daniel W. Sacks, 2013. "Estimating Earnings Adjustment Frictions: Method and Evidence from the Social Security Earnings Test," NBER Working Papers 19491, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Slemrod, Joel & Collins, Brett & Hoopes, Jeffrey L. & Reck, Daniel & Sebastiani, Michael, 2017. "Does credit-card information reporting improve small-business tax compliance?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 1-19.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    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:19482. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    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 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.

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.