Taxation

Emmanuel Saez, Benjamin Schoefer, David Seim, 22 November 2017

Cuts to the employer portion of payroll taxes are often discussed as a policy lever to reduce labour costs for firms. This column examines the effects of a Swedish experiment which dramatically cut employer payroll taxes for young workers between 2007 and 2015. The tax cut reduced youth unemployment by 2-3 percentage points, without any differential increase in wages of young workers. Firms used the tax windfall to expand employment and business activity, and firms with larger tax windfalls raised wages for workers – both young and old – collectively.

Youssef Benzarti, Dorian Carloni, 13 November 2017

In the wake of the Global Crisis, some governments sought to stimulate demand through VAT cuts. This column assesses the success of these measures by investigating who benefited from a VAT cut on sit-down restaurant meals in France. The results show that restaurant owners captured the lions’ share of the tax cut, while employees and consumers benefited substantially less. Further, following subsequent tax increases, restaurant owners increased their prices by four to five times more than they had decreased their prices following the original cut.

Benjamin Hansen, Keaton Miller, Caroline Weber, 04 November 2017

Tax revenue has historically been one of the arguments in favour of legalising marijuana. This column uses a change in Washington’s marijuana tax regime to explore how taxation affects industry and consumer behaviour. Gross receipts taxes encourage vertical as a form of tax avoidance and thus reduce expected revenue. The choice of what to tax (revenue versus weight) also has important implications for how the market evolves.

Alan Auerbach, 26 October 2017

The rising importance of multinational companies and the changing nature of production represents a challenge to the traditional ways that countries try to tax corporate profits. This column examines one potential policy response – a destination-based cash-flow tax – which it argues would confront the key international problems of existing tax systems. It also addresses some of the concerns arising in particular from US proposals to introduce such a tax.

Robert Duval-Hernández, Lei Fang, Liwa Rachel Ngai, 23 October 2017

Economists have tended to focus on the role of taxation in accounting for the wide variation in average hours worked across OECD countries. This column argues that the differences are driven by women, particularly women without a college degree. As taxation rises, women are more likely than men to reduce the hours they work. Social subsidies for family care reduce the price of substitutable market services, resulting in women working more.

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