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Effective taxation of top incomes in Germany

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  • Bach, Stefan
  • Corneo, Giacomo
  • Steiner, Viktor

Abstract

We exploit an exhaustive administrative dataset that includes the individual tax returns of all households in the top percentile of the income distribution in Germany to pin down the effective income taxation of households with very high incomes. Taking tax base erosion into account, we find that the top percentile of the income distribution pays an effective average tax rate of 30.5 percent and contributes more than a quarter of total income tax revenue. Within the top percentile, the effective average tax rate is first increasing and then decreasing with income. Since the 1990s, effective average tax rates for the German super rich have fallen by about a third, with major reductions occurring in the wake of the personal income tax reform of 2001-2005. As a result, the concentration of net incomes at the very top of the distribution has strongly increased in Germany.

Suggested Citation

  • Bach, Stefan & Corneo, Giacomo & Steiner, Viktor, 2011. "Effective taxation of top incomes in Germany," Discussion Papers 2011/18, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:fubsbe:201118
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    1. repec:clr:wugarc:y:2011:v:37i:4p:513 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Christina Anselmann & Hagen M. Krämer, 2012. "Completing the Bathtub?: The Development of Top Incomes in Germany, 1907-2007," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 451, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    3. Corneo Giacomo, 2015. "Kreuz und quer durch die deutsche Einkommensverteilung," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 16(2), pages 109-126, June.
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    5. Andreas Peichl & Nico Pestel & Sebastian Siegloch, 2013. "Ist Deutschland wirklich so progressiv? Einkommensumverteilung im europäischen Vergleich," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 82(1), pages 111-127.
    6. Sarah Godar & Christoph Paetz & Achim Truger, 2015. "The scope for progressive tax reform in the OECD countries. A macroeconomic perspective with a case study for Germany," Revue de l'OFCE, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 0(5), pages 79-117.
    7. Viktor Steiner & Florian Wakolbinger, 2015. "Tax Reform 2015-16 and Bracket Creep 2010-2019. A Microsimulation Analysis for Austria," WIFO Monatsberichte (monthly reports), WIFO, vol. 88(5), pages 425-430, May.
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    13. Wilfried Altzinger & Christopher Berka & Stefan Humer & Mathias Moser, 2012. "Die langfristige Entwicklung der Einkommenskonzentration in Österreich, 1957-2009," Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft - WuG, Kammer für Arbeiter und Angestellte für Wien, Abteilung Wirtschaftswissenschaft und Statistik, vol. 38(1), pages 77-102.
    14. Stefan Bach, 2016. "Erbschaftsteuer, Vermögensteuer oder Kapitaleinkommensteuer: Wie sollen hohe Vermögen stärker besteuert werden?," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1619, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    15. repec:eee:eecrev:v:101:y:2018:i:c:p:1-19 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Scharfenkamp Katrin, 2016. "It’s About Connections – How the Economic Network of the German Federal Government Affects the Top Earners’ Average Income Tax Rate," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 236(4), pages 427-453, August.
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    22. Claire Lebarz, 2015. "Income Inequality and Household Debt Distribution: A Cross-Country Analysis using Wealth Surveys," LWS Working papers 20, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    personal income tax; taxing the rich; effective progressivity;

    JEL classification:

    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution

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