IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Group simulation and income tax statistics: how big is the error?


  • Müller, Heiko
  • Sureth, Caren


Microsimulation based on income tax statistics may be useful in tax reform discussions. Unfortunately, access to appropriate data is still rather restricted and expensive for ad-hoc analyses, or individual data is often even not available at all. In this paper we take Germany and its data situation as a proxy for many countries' restrictions in terms of tax data availability. Analyzing how much reliability and robustness of results we lose if we employ group simulation instead of microsimulation, we compare both methods. Investigating tax scale effects by the group model leads to very good results. Determining the financial effects of modified tax bases, the deviation from the microsimulation results increases especially if tax base cuts vary between taxpayers. In addition, we take account of the class with taxpayers with a negative taxable income. Neglecting this class we identify a systematic underestimation of the financial consequences of a modified tax base with the group model assuming a progressive tax scale. If the group simulation data is not arranged according to the taxable income but rather according to the total amount of income we find in tendency higher deviations from the microsimulation results. Quantifying tax revenue effects of alternative tax settings the group simulation model represents a good compromise between the desire to capture the complex reality and the achievable accuracy when facing limited resources and data. Our group simulation model will be of major interest especially for analyses of rather old data, as sufficiently detailed data for micro analyses is usually missing.

Suggested Citation

  • Müller, Heiko & Sureth, Caren, 2007. "Group simulation and income tax statistics: how big is the error?," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 24, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:arqudp:24

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Wagstaff, Adam & van Doorslaer, Eddy & van der Burg, Hattem & Calonge, Samuel & Christiansen, Terkel & Citoni, Guido & Gerdtham, Ulf-G. & Gerfin, Michael & Gross, Lorna & Hakinnen, Unto, 1999. "Redistributive effect, progressivity and differential tax treatment: Personal income taxes in twelve OECD countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 73-98, April.
    2. Sutherland, Holly & Immervoll, Herwig & O'Donoghue, Cathal, 1999. "An introduction to EUROMOD," EUROMOD Working Papers EM0/99, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    3. Bourguignon, F. & O'Donoghue, C. & Sastre-Descals, J. & Spadara, A. & Utili, F., 1997. "Eur3: A Prototype European Tax-Benefit Model," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 9723, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    microsimulation; group simulation; tax revenue; personal income tax; tax statistics;

    JEL classification:

    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies


    Access and download statistics


    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:zbw:arqudp:24. 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: (ZBW - German National Library of Economics). General contact details of provider: .

    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.