IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Disentangling Financial Constraints, Precautionary Savings, and Myopia: Household Behavior Surrounding Federal Tax Returns

  • Brian Baugh
  • Itzhak Ben-David
  • Hoonsuk Park

We explore household consumption surrounding federal tax returns filings and refunds receipt to test various theories of consumption. Because uncertainty regarding the refund is resolved at filing, precautionary savings theory predicts an increase in consumption at this date. Contrary to this prediction, we find that households generally do not increase consumption at filing. Following the receipt of the refunds, consumption of both durables and nondurables increases dramatically and then decays quickly. Our results show that households, on average, are financially constrained, exhibit myopic behavior, and do not respond to precautionary savings motives.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to the full text is generally limited to series subscribers, however if the top level domain of the client browser is in a developing country or transition economy free access is provided. More information about subscriptions and free access is available at Free access is also available to older working papers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19783.

in new window

Date of creation: Jan 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19783
Note: CF
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Hall, Robert E, 1978. "Stochastic Implications of the Life Cycle-Permanent Income Hypothesis: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 971-87, December.
  2. Stephens Melvin, 2006. "Paycheque Receipt and the Timing of Consumption," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(513), pages 680-701, 07.
  3. Jappelli, Tullio & Pistaferri, Luigi, 2010. "The Consumption Response to Income Changes," CEPR Discussion Papers 7680, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Stephen P. Zeldes, . "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 16-88, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  5. Jappelli, Tullio & Pistaferri, Luigi, 1997. "Using Subjective Income Expectations to Test for Excess Sensitivity of Consumption to Predicted Income Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 1617, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Chang-Tai Hsieh, 2003. "Do Consumers React to Anticipated Income Changes? Evidence from the Alaska Permanent Fund," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 397-405, March.
  7. David S. Johnson & Jonathan A. Parker & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2004. "Household Expenditure and the Income Tax Rebates of 2001," Working Papers 136, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Discussion Papers in Economics..
  8. Melvin Stephens Jr., 2002. "'3rd of tha Month': Do Social Security Recipients Smooth Consumption Between Checks?," NBER Working Papers 9135, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Nicholas S. Souleles, 1999. "The Response of Household Consumption to Income Tax Refunds," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 947-958, September.
  10. Daniel Aaronson & Sumit Agarwal & Eric French, 2012. "The Spending and Debt Response to Minimum Wage Hikes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3111-39, December.
  11. Christopher D. Carroll, 1996. "Buffer-Stock Saving and the Life Cycle/Permanent Income Hypothesis," NBER Working Papers 5788, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Campbell, John Y & Mankiw, N Gregory, 1990. "Permanent Income, Current Income, and Consumption," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 8(3), pages 265-79, July.
  13. Richard Blundell & Hamish Low & Ian Preston, 2013. "Decomposing changes in income risk using consumption data," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 4(1), pages 1-37, 03.
  14. Jappelli, Tullio, 1990. "Who Is Credit Constrained in the U.S. Economy?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(1), pages 219-34, February.
  15. Milton Friedman, 1957. "A Theory of the Consumption Function," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie57-1, December.
  16. Hayashi, Fumio, 1985. "The Effect of Liquidity Constraints on Consumption: A Cross-sectional Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(1), pages 183-206, February.
  17. Milton Friedman, 1957. "Introduction to "A Theory of the Consumption Function"," NBER Chapters, in: A Theory of the Consumption Function, pages 1-6 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Joseph G. Altonji & Aloysius Siow, 1986. "Testing the Response of Consumption to Income Changes with (Noisy) PanelData," NBER Working Papers 2012, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Jonathan A. Parker, 1999. "The Reaction of Household Consumption to Predictable Changes in Social Security Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 959-973, September.
  20. Shea, John, 1995. "Union Contracts and the Life-Cycle/Permanent-Income Hypothesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 186-200, March.
  21. Poterba, James M, 1988. "Are Consumers Forward Looking? Evidence from Fiscal Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 413-18, May.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19783. 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: ()

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.