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Does tax simplification yield more equity and efficiency? An empirical analysis for Germany

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  • Peichl, Andreas
  • Fuest, Clemens
  • Schaefer, Thilo

Abstract

This paper investigates the impact of tax simplification on various indicators of the efficiency of the tax system and on the distribution of income. The analysis is based on a simulation model (FiFoSiM) using German income tax and household survey microdata. We model tax simplification as the abolition of a set of deductions from the tax base included in the German income tax system. We find that this form of tax base simplification leads to a reduction in the use of professional tax advice, a more equitable income distribution and an increase in tax revenue. If these measures are combined with a reduction of income tax rates to preserve revenue neutrality, the effects depend on the type of rate schedule adjustment. The combination with a flat rate tax implies redistribution in favour of very high incomes, and an overall increase in income inequality. Efficiency effects in terms of changes in marginal tax rates and labor supply effects are mixed. The combination with a rate schedule adjustment which preserves the directly progressive rate schedule yields a tax reform which reduces the inequality of after tax incomes. We conclude that tax simplification may improve the efficiency of the tax system without increasing inequality of after tax income.

Suggested Citation

  • Peichl, Andreas & Fuest, Clemens & Schaefer, Thilo, 2006. "Does tax simplification yield more equity and efficiency? An empirical analysis for Germany," FiFo Discussion Papers - Finanzwissenschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge 06-5, University of Cologne, FiFo Institute for Public Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:uoccpe:5147
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Joel Slemrod, 1992. "Did the Tax Reform Act of 1986 Simplify Tax Matters?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 45-57, Winter.
    2. James J. Heckman, 1976. "The Common Structure of Statistical Models of Truncation, Sample Selection and Limited Dependent Variables and a Simple Estimator for Such Models," NBER Chapters,in: Annals of Economic and Social Measurement, Volume 5, number 4, pages 475-492 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Esteban, Joan & Ray, Debraj, 1994. "On the Measurement of Polarization," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(4), pages 819-851, July.
    4. Franz W. Wagner, 2006. "Was bedeutet Steuervereinfachung wirklich?," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 7(1), pages 19-33, February.
    5. repec:hoo:wpaper:e-90-11 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Gerhard Wagenhals, 2001. "Incentive and Redistribution Effects of the "Karlsruher Entwurf zur Reform des Einkommenssteuergesetzes"," Diskussionspapiere aus dem Institut für Volkswirtschaftslehre der Universität Hohenheim 194/2001, Department of Economics, University of Hohenheim, Germany.
    7. Wolfson, Michael C, 1994. "When Inequalities Diverge," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 353-358, May.
    8. Peichl, Andreas, 2005. "Die Evaluation von Steuerreformen durch Simulationsmodelle," FiFo Discussion Papers - Finanzwissenschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge 05-1, University of Cologne, FiFo Institute for Public Economics.
    9. Gerhard Wagenhals, 2004. "Tax-benefit microsimulation models for Germany: A Survey," Diskussionspapiere aus dem Institut für Volkswirtschaftslehre der Universität Hohenheim 235/2004, Department of Economics, University of Hohenheim, Germany.
    10. Arthur van Soest, 1995. "Structural Models of Family Labor Supply: A Discrete Choice Approach," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(1), pages 63-88.
    11. Peichl, Andreas & Fuest, Clemens & Schaefer, Thilo, 2006. "Führt Steuervereinfachung zu einer "gerechteren" Einkommensverteilung? Eine empirische Analyse für Deutschland," FiFo Discussion Papers - Finanzwissenschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge 06-1, University of Cologne, FiFo Institute for Public Economics.
    12. Thomas MaCurdy & David Green & Harry Paarsch, 1990. "Assessing Empirical Approaches for Analyzing Taxes and Labor Supply," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(3), pages 415-490.
    13. Peichl, Andreas & Fuest, Clemens & Schaefer, Thilo, 2005. "Dokumentation FiFoSiM: Integriertes Steuer-Transfer-Mikrosimulations- und CGE-Modell," FiFo Discussion Papers - Finanzwissenschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge 05-3, University of Cologne, FiFo Institute for Public Economics.
    14. John Creedy & Alan S. Duncan & Mark Harris & Rosanna Scutella, 2002. "Microsimulation Modelling of Taxation and the Labour Market," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 2796.
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    Cited by:

    1. Max Löffler & Andreas Peichl & Nico Pestel & Hilmar Schneider & Sebastian Siegloch, 2011. "Einfach ist nicht immer gerecht : eine Mikrosimulationsstudie der Kirchhof-Reform für die Einkommensteuer," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 80(4), pages 147-160.
    2. Schaefer, Thilo & Peichl, Andreas & Fuest, Clemens, 2007. "Is a Flat Tax politically feasible in a grown-up Welfare State?," FiFo Discussion Papers - Finanzwissenschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge 07-6, University of Cologne, FiFo Institute for Public Economics.
    3. Mendoza, Ronald U. & Canare, Tristan A. & Ang, Alvin, 2015. "Doing Business: A Review of Literature and Its Role in APEC 2015," Research Paper Series DP 2015-37, Philippine Institute for Development Studies.
    4. Nina Hetzer & Andreas Peichl, 2010. "Steuerstrukturreform trotz leerer Kassen?!," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 63(01), pages 28-35, January.
    5. Max Löffler & Andreas Peichl & Nico Pestel & Hilmar Schneider & Sebastian Siegloch, 2012. "Effizient, einfach und gerecht: Ein integriertes System zur Reform von Einkommensteuer und Sozialabgaben," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 13(3), pages 196-213, August.
    6. Fuest, Clemens & Peichl, Andreas & Schaefer, Thilo, 2007. "Is a Flat Tax Feasible in a Grown-up Welfare State?," IZA Discussion Papers 3142, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Peichl, Andreas & Schaefer, Thilo & Scheicher, Christoph, 2006. "Measuring Richness and Poverty," FiFo Discussion Papers - Finanzwissenschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge 06-11, University of Cologne, FiFo Institute for Public Economics.
    8. Schaefer, Thilo & Peichl, Andreas, 2006. "Documentation FiFoSiM: integrated tax benefit microsimulation and CGE model," FiFo Discussion Papers - Finanzwissenschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge 06-10, University of Cologne, FiFo Institute for Public Economics.
    9. Mendoza, Ronald U. & Canare, Tristan A. & Ang, Alvin, 2015. "Doing Business: A Review of Literature and Its Role in APEC 2015," Discussion Papers DP 2015-37, Philippine Institute for Development Studies.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Income distribution; polarisation; tax simplification; flat tax;

    JEL classification:

    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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