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Tax Deducations, Consumption Distortions, and the Marginal Excess Burden of Taxation

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  • Parry, Ian

    () (Resources for the Future)

Abstract

Certain types of expendituree.g. mortgage interest and medical insurancereceive favorable tax treatment and are effectively subsidized relative to other (non-tax-favored) expenditures. Labor taxes (e.g. income taxes) can therefore produce efficiency losses by distorting the allocation of consumption, in addition to distorting the labor market. Using evidence on the responsiveness of taxable income to changes in tax rates, a seminal study by Feldstein (1999) estimates that the marginal excess burden of taxation (MEB) could exceed unity, when the effects of tax deductions are taken into account. This is several times larger than in previous studies of the MEB that focus exclusively on labor market effects. This paper develops a "disaggregated" approach to estimating the MEB that decomposes welfare impacts in the market for labor and tax-favored consumption goods, and uses micro evidence on labor supply elasticities, the demand elasticity for mortgage interest, medical insurance, and so on. Based on Monte Carlo simulations, the author finds a 68 percent probability that the MEB lies between .31 and .48 for government transfer spending and between .21 and .35 for public goods. These estimates are below Feldstein's, but are still considerably higher (70 percent or more) than when we ignore tax deductions.

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  • Parry, Ian, 1999. "Tax Deducations, Consumption Distortions, and the Marginal Excess Burden of Taxation," Discussion Papers dp-99-48, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-99-48
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    Cited by:

    1. Parry, Ian, 2000. "Comparing the Marginal Excess Burden of Labor, Gasoline, Cigarette and Alcohol Taxes: An Application to the United Kingdom," Discussion Papers dp-00-33-rev, Resources For the Future.

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