IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/23665.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Shopping for Lower Sales Tax Rates

Author

Listed:
  • Scott R. Baker
  • Stephanie Johnson
  • Lorenz Kueng

Abstract

Using comprehensive high-frequency state and local sales tax data, we show that shopping behavior responds strongly to changes in sales tax rates. Even though sales taxes are not observed in posted prices and have a wide range of rates and exemptions, consumers adjust in many dimensions. They stock up on storable goods before taxes rise and increase online and cross-border shopping in both the short and long run. The differences between short- and long-run spending responses have important implications for the efficacy of using sales taxes for counter-cyclical policy and for the design of an optimal tax framework. Interestingly, households adjust spending similarly for both taxable and tax-exempt goods. We embed an inventory problem into a continuous-time consumption-savings model and demonstrate that this seemingly irrational behavior is optimal in the presence of shopping trip fixed costs. The model successfully matches estimated short-run and long-run tax elasticities with an implied after-tax reservation wage of $7-10. We provide additional evidence in favor of this new shopping-complementarity mechanism.

Suggested Citation

  • Scott R. Baker & Stephanie Johnson & Lorenz Kueng, 2017. "Shopping for Lower Sales Tax Rates," NBER Working Papers 23665, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23665
    Note: EFG IO ME PE
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w23665.pdf
    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 http://www.nber.org/wwphelp.html. Free access is also available to older working papers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. repec:ces:ifodic:v:15:y:2017:i:1:p:19307480 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Marika Cabral & Caroline Hoxby, 2012. "The Hated Property Tax: Salience, Tax Rates, and Tax Revolts," NBER Working Papers 18514, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Karen S. Hamrick & David Hopkins, 2012. "The time cost of access to food – Distance to the grocery store as measured in minutes," electronic International Journal of Time Use Research, Research Institute on Professions (Forschungsinstitut Freie Berufe (FFB)) and The International Association for Time Use Research (IATUR), vol. 9(1), pages 28-58, November.
    4. Naomi E. Feldman & Bradley J. Ruffle, 2015. "The Impact of Including, Adding, and Subtracting a Tax on Demand," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 95-118, February.
    5. Liran Einav & Ephraim Leibtag & Aviv Nevo, 2010. "Recording discrepancies in Nielsen Homescan data: Are they present and do they matter?," Quantitative Marketing and Economics (QME), Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 207-239, June.
    6. Francesco D’Acunto & Daniel Hoang & Michael Weber, 2017. "The Effect of Unconventional Fiscal Policy on Consumption Expenditure," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 15(1), pages 09-11, April.
    7. Chen, Xiu & Kaiser, Harry M. & Rickard, Bradley J., 2014. "The Salience of Excise vs. Sales Taxes on Healthy Eating: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 180111, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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


    Cited by:

    1. Coibion, Olivier & Gorodnichenko, Yuriy & Koustas, Dmitri, 2017. "Consumption Inequality and the Frequency of Purchases," IZA Discussion Papers 10882, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Büttner, Thiess & Madzharova, Boryana, 2017. "The Effects of Pre-announced Consumption Tax Reforms on the Sales and Prices of Consumer Durables," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168201, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    3. Sébastien Houde & Joseph E. Aldy, 2017. "The Efficiency Consequences of Heterogeneous Behavioral Responses to Energy Fiscal Policies," NBER Working Papers 24103, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:23665. 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: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    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.