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Department of Economics, Lund University Working Papers, Department of Economics, Lund University

No 2004:5:
Taxpayers Responsiveness to Tax Rate Changes and Implications for the Cost of Taxation

Åsa Hansson ()

Abstract: The elasticity of taxable income with respect to net-of-tax rate is key in evaluating tax policies and predicting tax revenue effects. This paper estimates the elasticity of taxable income for Swedish taxpayers using two different approaches and a number of control variables using the 1990/1991 tax reform as a “natural experiment“. The preferred elasticity estimates fall in the range of 0.4 to 0.5, numbers comparable with recent estimates for the U.S., but higher than most estimates of the labor supply elasticity in Sweden. Therefore, tax policy evaluations based on labor supply elasticities are likely to underestimate taxpayer response to tax rate changes and to overestimate potential tax revenues from tax rate increases. Re-estimating the deadweight loss of labor taxation using my estimates of elasticity of taxable income, I find that deadweight loss may be substantially higher than suggested by estimates based on labor supply elasticities.

Keywords: Tax reform; taxable income elasticity; natural experiment; deadweight loss; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: H21; H24; H31; J22; (follow links to similar papers)

32 pages, February 2, 2004

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This paper is published as:
Hansson, Åsa, (2007), 'Taxpayers' Responsiveness to Tax Rate Changes and Implications for the Cost of Taxation', International Tax and Public Finance, Vol. 14, No. 5, pages 563-582



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