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Do We Now Collect Any Revenue From Taxing Capital Income?

  • Roger H. Gordon
  • Laura Kalambokidis
  • Joel Slemrod

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.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9477.

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Date of creation: Feb 2003
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Publication status: published as Gordon, Roger, Laura Kalambokidis and Joel Slemrod. "Do We Now Collect Any Revenue From Taxing Capital Income?," Journal of Public Economics, 2004, v88(5,Apr), 981-1009.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9477
Note: PE
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  1. Michael Devereux & Rachel Griffith, 1996. "Taxes and the location of production: evidence from a panel of US multinationals," IFS Working Papers W96/14, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  2. Alan J. Auerbach & James R. Hines, Jr., 1987. "Anticipated Tax Changes and the Timing of Investment," NBER Chapters, in: The Effects of Taxation on Capital Accumulation, pages 163-200 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 109-17, Summer.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Joel Slemrod, 2001. "A General Model of the Behavioral Response to Taxation," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 119-128, March.
  11. Slemrod, Joel, 1997. "Deconstructing the Income Tax," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 151-55, May.
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