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Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: Cigarette Tax Salience and Regressivity

Author

Listed:
  • Jacob Goldin

    (Princeton University)

  • Tatiana Homonoff

    (Princeton University)

Abstract

Recent evidence suggests consumers pay less attention to commodity taxes that are levied at the register than to taxes that are included in a good’s posted price. If this attention gap is larger for high-income consumers than for low-income consumers, policymakers can manipulate a tax’s regressivity by altering the fraction of the tax imposed at the register. We investigate income differences in attentiveness to cigarette taxes, exploiting state and time variation in cigarette excise and sales tax rates. Whereas all consumers respond to taxes that appear in cigarettes’ posted price, only low-income consumers respond to taxes levied at the register.

Suggested Citation

  • Jacob Goldin & Tatiana Homonoff, 2011. "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: Cigarette Tax Salience and Regressivity," Working Papers 561a, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  • Handle: RePEc:pri:indrel:561a
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Becker, Gary S & Grossman, Michael & Murphy, Kevin M, 1994. "An Empirical Analysis of Cigarette Addiction," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 396-418, June.
    2. Kelly Shue & Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2009. "Who Misvotes? The Effect of Differential Cognition Costs on Election Outcomes," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 229-257, February.
    3. Gruber Jonathan H & Mullainathan Sendhil, 2005. "Do Cigarette Taxes Make Smokers Happier," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-45, July.
    4. Amy Finkelstein, 2009. "E-ztax: Tax Salience and Tax Rates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(3), pages 969-1010.
    5. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2009. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1145-1177, September.
    6. Slemrod, Joel & Kopczuk, Wojciech, 2002. "The optimal elasticity of taxable income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 91-112, April.
    7. Chaloupka, Frank J. & Warner, Kenneth E., 2000. "The economics of smoking," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 29, pages 1539-1627, Elsevier.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    cigarette taxes; tax burden; smokers; consumer habits;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • L66 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Food; Beverages; Cosmetics; Tobacco

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