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Jel Classification:H24 

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Practical Optimal Income Taxation

We review methods used to numerically compute optimal Mirrleesian tax and transfer schedules in heterogeneous agent economies. We show that the coarseness of the productivity grid, while a technical detail in terms of theory, is critical for delivering quantitative policy prescriptions. Existing methods are reliable only when a very fine grid is used. The problem is acute for computational approaches that use a version of the Diamond-Saez implicit optimal tax formula. If using a very fine grid for productivity is impractical, then optimizing within a flexible parametric class is preferable to ...
Staff Report , Paper 626

Working Paper
Wage Risk and Government and Spousal Insurance

The extent to which households can self-insure and the government can help them to do so depends on the wage risk that they face and their family structure. We study wage risk in the UK and show that the persistence and riskiness of wages depends on one's age and position in the wage distribution. We also calibrate a model of couples and singles with two alternative processes for wages: a canonical one and a flexible one that allows for the much richer dynamics that we document in the data. We use our model to show that allowing for rich wage dynamics is important to properly evaluate the ...
Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute Working Papers , Paper 44

Working Paper
Changes in the Distribution of After-Tax Wealth: Has Income Tax Policy Increased Wealth Inequality?

A substantial share of the wealth of Americans is held in tax-deferred form such as in retirement accounts or as unrealized capital gains. Most data and statistics on assets and wealth is reported on a pre-tax basis, but pre-tax values include an implicit tax liability and may not provide as accurate a measure of the financial position or material well-being of families. In this paper, we describe the distribution of tax-deferred assets in the SCF from 1989 to 2013, provide new estimates of the income tax liabilities implicit in those assets, and present new statistics on the level and ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2015-58

Discussion Paper
How Will the New Tax Law Affectt Homeowners in High Tax States? It Depends

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) introduces significant changes to the federal income tax code for individuals and businesses. Several provisions of the new tax law are particularly significant for the owner?occupied housing market. In this blog post, we compare the federal tax liability and the marginal after-tax cost of mortgage interest and property taxes under the old and new tax codes for a wide range of hypothetical recent home buyers in a high tax state. We find that impacts vary substantially along the income/home price distribution.
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20180411

Working Paper
Proxy SVARs: Asymptotic Theory, Bootstrap Inference, and the Effects of Income Tax Changes in the United States

Proxy structural vector autoregressions (SVARs) identify structural shocks in vector autoregressions (VARs) with external proxy variables that are correlated with the structural shocks of interest but uncorrelated with other structural shocks. We provide asymptotic theory for proxy SVARs when the VAR innovations and proxy variables are jointly ?-mixing. We also prove the asymptotic validity of a residual-based moving block bootstrap (MBB) for inference on statistics that depend jointly on estimators for the VAR coefficients and for covariances of the VAR innovations and proxy variables. These ...
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 1619

Working Paper
The Effects of Collecting Income Taxes on Social Security Benefits

Since 1983, Social Security benefits have been subject to income taxation, a provision that can significantly increase the marginal income tax rate for older individuals. To assess the impact of this tax, we construct and calibrate a detailed life-cycle model of labor supply, saving, and Social Security claiming. We find that in a long-run stationary environment, replacing the taxation of Social Security benefits with a revenue-equivalent increase in the payroll tax would significantly increase labor supply, consumption and welfare. From an ex-ante perspective an even more desirable reform ...
Working Paper , Paper 17-2

Working Paper
Social Security Reform with Heterogeneous Mortality

Using a heterogeneous-agent, life-cycle model of Social Security claiming, labor supply and saving, we consider the implications of lifespan inequality for Social Security reform. Quantitative experiments show that welfare is maximized when baseline benefits are independent of lifetime earnings, the payroll tax cap is kept roughly unchanged, and claiming adjustments are reduced. Eliminating the earnings test and the income taxation of Social Security benefits provides additional gains. The Social Security system that would maximize welfare in a "2050 demographics" scenario, characterized by ...
Working Paper , Paper 20-09

Working Paper
Income and Earnings Mobility in U.S. Tax Data

We use a large panel of federal income tax data to investigate intragenerational income mobility in the United States. We have two primary objectives. First, we explore the determinants of two-year changes in individual labor earnings and family incomes, such as job or industry changes, marriage, divorce, and geographic mobility. Second, we evaluate how federal income taxes stabilize or destabilize post-tax income changes relative to pre-tax changes. We find a relatively high degree of income mobility, with almost half of workers exhibiting earnings increases or decreases of at least 25 ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2015-61

Working Paper
Dissecting Idiosyncratic Earnings Risk

This paper examines whether nonlinear and non-Gaussian features of earnings dynamics are caused by hours or hourly wages. Our findings from the Norwegian administrative and survey data are as follows: (i) Nonlinear mean reversion in earnings is driven by the dynamics of hours worked rather than wages since wage dynamics are close to linear, while hours dynamics are nonlinear—negative changes to hours are transitory, while positive changes are persistent. (ii) Large earnings changes are driven equally by hours and wages, whereas small changes are associated mainly with wage shocks. (iii) ...
Working Papers , Paper 2022-024

Working Paper
IPOs and Corporate Taxes

Does going public affect the amount and type of corporate tax planning? Using a panel of U.S. corporate tax return data from 1994 to 2018, we show that IPO completion is associated with the implementation of multinational income shifting strategies central to the current international tax policy debate. Specifically, firms (i) expand their foreign tax haven presence, (ii) enter into cross-border agreements that accompany intangible asset transfers to foreign subsidiaries, and (iii) increase their level of foreign related-party payments around the time that they go public. The effects are ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2021-058

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