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The Tax Elasticity of Capital Gains Realizations: Evidence from a Panel of Taxpayers

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  • Joel Slemrod
  • William Shobe

Abstract

This paper examines a newly available six-year panel of tax return data to see what light it sheds on the tax elasticity of capital gains realizations. Panel data are a particularly valuable source of evidence for this question, because they can help to distinguish short-run from long-run effects and because they track the behavior of individuals when faced with varying tax systems. We find consistent, although not overwhelming, support for an inverse response of capital gains realizations to changes in their rate of taxation. The response to deviations from past tax rates generally exceeds the response to persistent tax changes. The estimated magnitude of the realization response is large enough to substantially mitigate the revenue loss that a tax reduction would otherwise cause and may, especially in the short run, be large enough to generate an increase in revenues. These results, however, must be qualified by their nonrobustness to specification changes along a number of dimensions and by the fact that a more general dynamic specification does not yield plausible results.

Suggested Citation

  • Joel Slemrod & William Shobe, 1990. "The Tax Elasticity of Capital Gains Realizations: Evidence from a Panel of Taxpayers," NBER Working Papers 3237, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3237 Note: PE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Martin Feldstein & Joel Slemrod & Shlomo Yitzhaki, 1980. "The Effects of Taxation on the Selling of Corporate Stock and the Realization of Capital Gains," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 94(4), pages 777-791.
    2. Martin Feldstein & Joel Slemrod & Shlomo Yitzhaki, 1984. "The Effects of Taxation on the Selling of Corporate Stock and the Realization of Capital Gains: Reply," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(1), pages 111-120.
    3. Gerald E. Auten & Charles T. Clotfelter, 1982. "Permanent versus Transitory Tax Effects and the Realization of Capital Gains," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(4), pages 613-632.
    4. Joel Slemrod, 1978. "The Lock-In Effect of the Capital Gains Tax: Some Time Series Evidence," NBER Working Papers 0257, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Joseph J. Minarik, 1984. "The Effects of Taxation on the Selling of Corporate Stock and the Realization of Capital Gains: Comment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(1), pages 93-110.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Auten, Gerald & Joulfaian, David, 2001. "Bequest taxes and capital gains realizations," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 213-229, August.
    2. Burman, Leonard E. & Clausing, Kimberly A. & O'Hare, John F., 1994. "Tax Reform and Realizations of Capital Gains in 1986," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 47(1), pages 1-18, March.
    3. Burman, Leonard E & Randolph, William C, 1994. "Measuring Permanent Responses to Capital-Gains Tax Changes in Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 794-809, September.
    4. Alan J. Auerbach & Joel Slemrod, 1997. "The Economic Effects of the Tax Reform Act of 1986," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 589-632, June.
    5. Mariger, Randall P., 1995. "Taxes, Capital Gains Realizations, and Revenues: A Critical Review and Some New Results," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 48(3), pages 447-62, September.
    6. Reuven Brenner & Gabrielle A. Brenner, 2010. "Venture Capital in Canada: Lessons for Building (or Restoring) National Wealth," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 22(1), pages 86-98.
    7. Burman, Leonard E. & Clausing, Kimberly A. & O'Hare, John F., 1994. "Tax Reform and Realizations of Capital Gains in 1986," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 47(1), pages 1-18, March.
    8. Christian, Charles W. & Frischmann, Peter J., 1989. "Attrition in the Statistics of Income Panel of Individual Returns," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 42(4), pages 495-501, December.
    9. John Diamond, 2005. "Dynamic Effects of Extending the 2001 and 2003 Income Tax Cuts," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 12(2), pages 165-192, March.
    10. Emmanuel Saez & Stefanie Stantcheva, 2016. "A Simpler Theory of Optimal Capital Taxation," NBER Working Papers 22664, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Auerbach, Alan J., 1989. "Capital Gains Taxation and Tax Reform," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 42(3), pages 391-401, September.
    12. William T. Bogart & William M. Gentry, 1993. "Capital Gains Taxation and Realizations: Evidence from Interstate Comparisons," NBER Working Papers 4254, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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