5.1.4 Empirical Evidence on Top Incomes and Top Tax Rates

Micro-Level Tax Reform Studies. A very large literature has used tax reforms and micro-level tax return data to identify the elasticity of reported incomes with respect to the net-of-tax marginal rate. Those studies typically compare changes in pre-tax incomes of groups affected by a tax reform to changes in pre-tax incomes of groups unaffected by the reform. Hence, such tax reform-based analysis can only estimate short-term responses (typically 1–5 years) to tax changes. This literature, surveyed in Saez, Slemrod, and Giertz (2012), obtains three key conclusions that we briefly summarize here. First, there is substantial heterogeneity in the estimates: Many studies finding relatively ...

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