2019

Trends and Gradients in Top Tax Elasticities: Cross-country Evidence, 1900–2014

Reprint No. 2019:18

Author(s): Enrico Rubolino and Daniel WaldenströmYear: 2019 Title: International Tax and Public Finance Volume (No.): 26 (3) Pages: 457–485
Online article (restrictions may apply)
Preliminary version


We construct a cross-country dataset spanning 1900–2014 to estimate the tax elasticity of top incomes. Our results show that top tax elasticities vary tremendously over time; they were medium to low before 1950, dropped to almost zero during the postwar era and increased to unprecedented levels since 1980. We document a marked income gradient of increasing tax responsiveness at the top. Tax avoidance, especially income shifting between wage and capital income, appears to be one important driver of these patterns. Wars, financial crises, and country-specific effects and trends also have a bearing on top elasticities.


Reference:
Rubolino, Enrico and Daniel Waldenström (2019), "Trends and Gradients in Top Tax Elasticities: Cross-country Evidence, 1900–2014". International Tax and Public Finance 26(3), 457–485.

Daniel Waldenström

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