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A General Model of the Behavioral Response to Taxation

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  • Joel Slemrod

Abstract

This paper generalizes the standard model of how taxes affect the labor-leisure choice by allowing individuals to change both their labor supply and avoidance effort in response to tax changes. Doing so reveals that both the income and substitution effect of taxes depend on both preferences and the avoidance technology, and econometric analysis will not in general allow one to separately identify the two influences, unless one can specify observable determinants of the cost of avoidance. The effective marginal tax rate on working must be modified by the addition of an avoidance-facilitating effect, which measures how much the cost of avoidance declines with higher true income. In an extreme case in which the cost of avoidance depends only on reported income, taxation has no compensated effect on labor supply regardless of preferences. This model provides a conceptual structure for evaluating to what extent, and in what situations, the opportunities for avoidance mitigate the real substitution response to tax reform.

Suggested Citation

  • Joel Slemrod, 1998. "A General Model of the Behavioral Response to Taxation," NBER Working Papers 6582, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6582
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz, 1993. "Tax evasion and optimal commodity taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 261-275, February.
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    3. Kaplow, Louis, 1990. "Optimal taxation with costly enforcement and evasion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 221-236, November.
    4. Harry Grubert & Joel Slemrod, 1998. "The Effect Of Taxes On Investment And Income Shifting To Puerto Rico," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(3), pages 365-373, August.
    5. Rosen, Harvey S, 1976. "Tax Illusion and the Labor Supply of Married Women," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 58(2), pages 167-172, May.
    6. Usher, Dan, 1986. "Tax Evasion and the Marginal Cost of Public Funds," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 24(4), pages 563-586, October.
    7. Cowell, Frank A., 1985. "Tax evasion with labour income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 19-34, February.
    8. Allingham, Michael G. & Sandmo, Agnar, 1972. "Income tax evasion: a theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3-4), pages 323-338, November.
    9. Mayshar, Joram, 1991. " Taxation with Costly Administration," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 93(1), pages 75-88.
    10. Shlomo Yitzhaki, 1987. "On the Excess Burden of Tax Evasion," Public Finance Review, , vol. 15(2), pages 123-137, April.
    11. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1974. "Income tax evasion: A theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 201-202, May.
    12. Slemrod, Joel, 1994. "Fixing the leak in Okun's bucket optimal tax progressivity when avoidance can be controlled," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 41-51, September.
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    JEL classification:

    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General

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