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Taxes and Entrepreneurial Activity: Theory and Evidence for the U.S

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  • Roger H. Gordon
  • Julie Berry Cullen

Abstract

Entrepreneurial activity is presumed to generate important spillovers, potentially justifying tax subsidies. How does the tax law affect individual incentives? How much of an impact has it had in practice? We first show theoretically that taxes can affect the incentives to be an entrepreneur due simply to differences in tax rates on business vs. wage and salary income, due to differences in the tax treatment of losses vs. profits through a progressive rate structure and through the option to incorporate, and due to risk-sharing with the government. We then provide empirical evidence using U.S. individual tax return data that these aspects of the tax law have had large effects on actual behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Roger H. Gordon & Julie Berry Cullen, 2002. "Taxes and Entrepreneurial Activity: Theory and Evidence for the U.S," NBER Working Papers 9015, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9015
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert B. Barsky & Miles S. Kimball & F. Thomas Juster & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1995. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Survey," NBER Working Papers 5213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Bruce, Donald, 2000. "Effects of the United States tax system on transitions into self-employment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(5), pages 545-574, September.
    3. Feldstein, Martin & Dicks-Mireaux, Louis & Poterba, James, 1983. "The effective tax rate and the pretax rate of return," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 129-158, July.
    4. Blanchflower, David G., 2000. "Self-employment in OECD countries," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(5), pages 471-505, September.
    5. Martin S. Feldstein, 1999. "Capital Income Taxes and the Benefit of Price Stability," NBER Chapters,in: The Costs and Benefits of Price Stability, pages 9-46 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Feldstein, Martin S & Slemrod, Joel, 1980. "Personal Taxation, Portfolio Choice, and the Effect of the Corporation Income Tax," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(5), pages 854-866, October.
    7. Robert Carroll & Douglas Holtz-Eakin & Mark Rider & Harvey S. Rosen, 2001. "Personal Income Taxes and the Growth of Small Firms," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 15, pages 121-148 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Robert Carroll & Douglas Holtz-Eakin & Mark Rider & Harvey S. Rosen, 1996. "Income Taxes and Entrepreneur' Use of Labor," Working Papers 752, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    9. Peter Diamond & Jonathan Gruber, 1997. "Social Security and Retirement in the U.S," NBER Working Papers 6097, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Bird, Edward J., 2001. "Does the welfare state induce risk-taking?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 357-383, June.
    11. Roger H. Gordon, 1998. "Can High Personal Tax Rates Encourage Entrepreneurial Activity?," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 45(1), pages 49-80, March.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue

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