IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/pra/mprapa/17604.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Trends in High Incomes and Behavioral Responses to Taxation: Evidence from Executive Compensation and Statistics of Income Data

Author

Listed:
  • Nada, Eissa
  • Giertz, Seth

Abstract

This paper examines income trends from 1992 to 2004 and the responsiveness of different income measures to tax changes for corporate executives and for the very highest income U.S. taxpayers. We detail the growth in executive compensation and break down the components of that growth by sources, such as the value of options and stock grants, as well as bonus income. We then examine income trends at various points in the income distribution for executives and for all taxpayers. An empirical strategy similar to that employed by Goolsbee (2000) is then used to examine the responsiveness to tax rates of broad measures as well as individual sources of executive compensation. Additionally, we investigate the impact of marginal tax rates applying to corporate income, personal income, and capital gains on the composition of executive compensation. Consistent with other studies, we find that most of the growth and volatility in incomes has been concentrated within the top one percent of taxpayers, for whom income grew sharply between 1992 and 2000, and then declined sharply from 2000 to 2002. Below the top one percent, income patterns are much more stable. Income patterns for executives are similar to, but more volatile than, those for the very highest income taxpayers. Salary income of executives has been relatively stable, while the value of their stock options, stock grants, and bonuses has grown tremendously. We use data from two sources: a panel of executives and IRS tax returns from the Statistics of Income. Our elasticity estimates based on the panel of executives may be more reliable than those based on the tax panel because the regressions include firm-specific information that helps to explain changes in income. For executives, our permanent earned income elasticity estimate for the early 1990s is 0.19 (with substantial transitory shifting of income into the year prior to the 1993 tax increase). There is also evidence of substantial transitory income shifting around the time of the 2001 Economic Growth Tax Relief and Reconciliation Act (EGTRRA), but the overall estimated elasticity is negative. The results are not definitive, however. Our results are sensitive to many factors, such as the time-period examined, the data set used, and the econometric specification. That inconsistency reflects the complexities inherent in estimating high-income behavioral responses to taxation. The fact that the elasticity estimates differ greatly across time-periods and across the two datasets suggests that non-tax factors are extremely important. That observation is consistent with several other papers (Slemrod 1996, Saez 2004, Kopczuk 2005, Giertz 2006) that all show a great deal of sensitivity surrounding taxable income elasticity estimates.

Suggested Citation

  • Nada, Eissa & Giertz, Seth, 2006. "Trends in High Incomes and Behavioral Responses to Taxation: Evidence from Executive Compensation and Statistics of Income Data," MPRA Paper 17604, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:17604
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/17604/1/MPRA_paper_17604.pdf
    File Function: original version
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-864, October.
    2. Robert A. Moffitt & Mark Wilhelm, 1998. "Taxation and the Labor Supply: Decisions of the Affluent," NBER Working Papers 6621, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Slemrod, Joel & Kopczuk, Wojciech, 2002. "The optimal elasticity of taxable income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 91-112, April.
    6. Brian J. Hall & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 1998. "Are CEOs Really Paid Like Bureaucrats?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(3), pages 653-691.
    7. Giertz, Seth, 2004. "Recent Literature on Taxable-Income Elasticities," MPRA Paper 16159, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Brian J. Hall & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2000. "The Taxation of Executive Compensation," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 14, pages 1-44 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Slemrod, Joel, 1998. "Methodological Issues in Measuring and Interpreting Taxable Income Elasticities," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 51(n. 4), pages 773-88, December.
    10. Austan Goolsbee, 1999. "Evidence on the High-Income Laffer Curve from Six Decades of Tax Reform," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 30(2), pages 1-64.
    11. Austan Goolsbee, 2000. "What Happens When You Tax the Rich? Evidence from Executive Compensation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(2), pages 352-378, April.
    12. Giertz, Seth, 2005. "A Sensitivity Analysis of the Elasticity of Taxable Income," MPRA Paper 17601, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Slemrod, Joel, 1998. "Methodological Issues in Measuring and Interpreting Taxable Income Elasticities," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 51(4), pages 773-788, December.
    14. Eriksson, Tor, 1999. "Executive Compensation and Tournament Theory: Empirical Tests on Danish Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 262-280, April.
    15. Emmanuel Saez & Michael R. Veall, 2005. "The Evolution of High Incomes in Northern America: Lessons from Canadian Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 831-849, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Dana Andersen & Ramón López, 2012. "Do Tax Cuts Encourage Rent-Seeking by Top Corporate Executives? Theory and Evidence," Working Papers wp360, University of Chile, Department of Economics.
    2. Emmanuel Saez & Joel Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2012. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(1), pages 3-50, March.
    3. repec:voj:journl:v:63:y:2016:i:2:p:231-258 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Elasticity of Taxable Income; Behavioral Responses to Taxation; Taxation; Executive Compensation; Income Distribution;

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:17604. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Joachim Winter) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/vfmunde.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.