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Do We Now Collect Any Revenue From Taxing Capital Income?

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  • Roger H. Gordon
  • Laura Kalambokidis
  • Joel Slemrod

Abstract

The U.S. income tax has long been recognized as a hybrid of an income and consumption tax, with elements that do not fit naturally into either pure system. The precise nature of this hybrid has important policy implications for, among other things, understanding the impact of moving closer to a pure consumption tax regime. In this paper, we examine the nature of the U.S. income tax by calculating the revenue and distributional implications of switching from the current system to one form of consumption tax, a modified cash flow tax. Although earlier work had suggested that in 1983 such a switch would have cost little or no revenue at all, we calculate that in 1995 this switch would have cost $108.1 billion in tax revenues, suggesting that the U.S. income tax does impose some positive tax on capital income. The net gains from such a switch have a U-shaped pattern, with those in the lowest and highest deciles of labor income receiving the largest proportional gains, although those in the highest decile would have by far the largest absolute gains.

Suggested Citation

  • Roger H. Gordon & Laura Kalambokidis & Joel Slemrod, 2003. "Do We Now Collect Any Revenue From Taxing Capital Income?," NBER Working Papers 9477, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9477
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. William M. Gentry & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1997. "Distributional Implications of Introducing a Broad-Based Consumption Tax," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 11, pages 1-48 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Gruber, Jon & Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "The elasticity of taxable income: evidence and implications," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 1-32, April.
    3. Michael P. Devereux & Rachel Griffith, 1998. "The Taxation of Discrete Investment Choices," Keele Department of Economics Discussion Papers (1995-2001) 98/08, Department of Economics, Keele University.
    4. Alan J. Auerbach & Roger H. Gordon, 2002. "Taxation of Financial Services under a VAT," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 411-416, May.
    5. Devereux, Michael P. & Griffith, Rachel, 1998. "Taxes and the location of production: evidence from a panel of US multinationals," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 335-367, June.
    6. Roger H. Gordon & Joel Slemrod, 1988. "Do We Collect Any Revenue from Taxing Capital Income?," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy: Volume 2, pages 89-130 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Alan J. Auerbach & James R. Hines, Jr., 1987. "Anticipated Tax Changes and the Timing of Investment," NBER Chapters,in: Taxes and Capital Formation, pages 85-88 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Bond, Stephen R & Devereux, Michael P & Gammie, Malcolm J, 1996. "Tax Reform to Promote Investment," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(2), pages 109-117, Summer.
    9. 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.
    10. Joel Slemrod, 2001. "A General Model of the Behavioral Response to Taxation," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 8(2), pages 119-128, March.
    11. Roger Gordon & Laura Kalambokidis & Joel Slemrod, 2003. "A New Summary Measure of the Effective Tax Rate on Investment," NBER Working Papers 9535, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Gordon, Roger & Kalambokidis, Laura & Slemrod, Joel, 2004. "Do we now collect any revenue from taxing capital income?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(5), pages 981-1009, April.
    13. Slemrod, Joel, 1997. "Deconstructing the Income Tax," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 151-155, May.
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    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue

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