Income redistribution through taxation – how deductions undermine the effect of taxes
AbstractThis paper shows the potential of administrative data to grant us a more complete picture of the redistributive effects of the visible (tax rates) and hidden (tax deductions) instruments of the fiscal welfare state. Based on administrative tax data from a large Swiss canton, we apply a gini-based redistributive effect decomposition to demonstrate how several taxes and deductions impact the post-tax income distribution. We show that tax deductions drastically reduce the redistributive effect of taxes because lump sum deductions in a progressive tax system lead to greater tax relief for higher income earners. Moreover, high income earners have additional options to claim deductions such as real-estate expenses or extra-mandatory payments to the pension scheme. Comparison over time furthermore shows that the role of deductions for real-estate expenses decreased. All in all, because deductions reduce the redistributive effect of taxes, they lead to higher post tax income inequality compared to a hypothetical system without deducations. The redistrubtive effect of the tax system should therefore be studied, not only with respect to tax rates, but also with respect to deductions.
How to Cite
Hümbelin, O., & Farys, R. (2018). Income redistribution through taxation – how deductions undermine the effect of taxes. Journal of Income Distribution®, 26(1), 1–35. https://doi.org/10.25071/1874-6322.40330