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Behavioral Responses to Tax Rates: Evidence from TRA86

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  • Martin Feldstein

Abstract

This paper uses the experience after the Tax Reform Act of 1986 to examine how taxes affect three aspects of individual taxpayer behavior: labor supply, total taxable income, and capital gains. The substantial sensitivity of married women's labor supply implies that the efficiency of the tax system could be increased significantly by reducing the marginal tax rates of these women relative to their husbands' marginal tax rates. More generally, the sensitivity of taxable income to the net of tax share implies that lower marginal tax rates would involve much less revenue loss than is traditionally assumed and would bring a much more substantial reduction in the deadweight loss of the tax system. The sharp fall in the real value of realized capital gains since the 1986 rise in tax rates on capital gains confirms earlier research indicating the substantial sensitivity of capital gains realizations to tax rates. A comparison with projections by the Treasury and Congressional Budget Office made in 1988 shows that the current official model greatly understates the sensitivity of capital gains to tax rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Feldstein, 1995. "Behavioral Responses to Tax Rates: Evidence from TRA86," NBER Working Papers 5000, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5000
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Barry Bosworth & Gary Burtless, 1992. "Effects of Tax Reform on Labor Supply, Investment, and Saving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 3-25, Winter.
    2. Feldstein, Martin & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1978. "The effects of the capital gains tax on the selling and switching of common stock," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 17-36, February.
    3. Hausman, Jerry & Ruud, Paul, 1984. "Family Labor Supply with Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 242-248, May.
    4. Martin Feldstein, 1999. "Tax Avoidance And The Deadweight Loss Of The Income Tax," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 674-680, November.
    5. Heckman, James J, 1993. "What Has Been Learned about Labor Supply in the Past Twenty Years?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 116-121, May.
    6. Mroz, Thomas A, 1987. "The Sensitivity of an Empirical Model of Married Women's Hours of Work to Economic and Statistical Assumptions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(4), pages 765-799, July.
    7. Robert K. Triest, 1990. "The Effect of Income Taxation on Labor Supply in the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(3), pages 491-516.
    8. 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.
    9. MaCurdy, Thomas, 1992. "Work Disincentive Effects of Taxes: A Reexamination of Some Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 243-249, May.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Esteller-More, Alex & Sole-Olle, Albert, 2001. "Vertical income tax externalities and fiscal interdependence: evidence from the US," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2-3), pages 247-272, April.
    2. Laurence Jacquet & Etienne Lehmann, 2017. "Optimal Income Taxation with Composition Effects," CESifo Working Paper Series 6654, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Del Negro, Marco & Perri, Fabrizio & Schivardi, Fabiano, 2010. "Tax buyouts," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(5), pages 576-595, July.
      • Marco Del Negro & Fabrizio Perri & Fabiano Schivardi, 2010. "Tax Buyouts," EIEF Working Papers Series 1007, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Mar 2010.
      • Marco Del Negro & Fabrizio Perri & Fabiano Schivardi, 2010. "Tax buyouts," Staff Report 441, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
      • Marco Del Negro & Fabrizio Perri & Fabiano Schivardi, 2010. "Tax buyouts," Staff Reports 467, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
      • Marco Del Negro & Fabrizio Perri & Fabiano Schivardi, 2010. "Tax buyouts," NBER Working Papers 15847, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Han, Li & Kung, James Kai-Sing, 2015. "Fiscal incentives and policy choices of local governments: Evidence from China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 89-104.
    5. Anastasia Girshina, 2016. "Implications of Fiscal Policy for Housing Tenure Decisions," Working Papers 2014:, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
    6. Blomquist, Sören & Simula, Laurent, 2010. "Marginal Deadweight Loss when the Income Tax is Nonlinear," Working Paper Series 2010:3, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    7. Best, Michael & Brockmeyer, Anne & Kleven, Henrik & Spinnewijn, Johannes & Waseem, Mazhar, 2013. "Production vs Revenue Efficiency With Limited Tax Capacity: Theory and Evidence From Pakistan," CEPR Discussion Papers 9717, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Feldstein, Martin, 1996. "The Missing Piece in Policy Analysis: Social Security Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 1-14, May.
    9. Zheng Wei, 2005. "A Comparative Welfare Analysis of Social Security System Selection," Asia-Pacific Journal of Risk and Insurance, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 1-12, June.
    10. Charles Yuji Horioka, 2014. "The Life and Work of Martin Stuart ("Marty") Feldstein," ISER Discussion Paper 0905r, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University, revised Mar 2015.
    11. Besley, Timothy J. & Persson, Torsten, 2013. "Taxation and Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 9307, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Seng-Eun Choi, 2014. "Is Self-Employment Income More Responsive to Income Tax Rate?," Korean Economic Review, Korean Economic Association, vol. 30, pages 67-84.
    13. Bull, Nicholas & Lindsey, Lawrence B., 1996. "Monetary Implications of Tax Reforms," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 49(3), pages 359-379, September.
    14. repec:dpr:wpaper:0905 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Bull, Nicholas & Lindsey, Lawrence B., 1996. "Monetary Implications of Tax Reforms," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 49(3), pages 359-79, September.
    16. Martin Feldstein & Daniel Feenberg, 1996. "The Effect of Increased Tax Rates on Taxable Income and Economic Efficiency: A Preliminary Analysis of the 1993 Tax Rate Increases," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 10, pages 89-118 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Samuel Lundstrom, 2017. "The Impact of Family Income on Child Achievement: Evidence from the Earned Income Tax Credit: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(2), pages 623-628, February.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household

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