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Incentive Effects of Taxing High Earners

by Aedín Doris @The Irish Economy, 10 March 2009
In a recent post, Patrick Honohan raised the issue of what a sustainable tax system would look like, and in a follow up to that post, discussed whether a goal of keeping low income workers out of the tax net implied, with the current tax revenue requirement, tax rates on other earners that were so high as to have serious disincentive effects. In the ensuing discussion, John McHale suggested that I was being too sanguine about the incentive effects at the top of the distribution and helpfully pointed me towards a literature that I wasn’t familiar with, on the tax rate elasticity of taxable income, and particularly to a paper by Gruber and Saez (J.Pub.Econ., 2002), which finds an average elasticity of 0.4, with higher elasticities for high earners.

There are two reasons why we should be worried if income elasticities for this group are so high.… Link to article

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