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Perception and Income: The Behavioral Economics of the Realization Doctrine

69 Pages Posted: 22 May 2003  

Terrence R. Chorvat

George Mason University School of Law

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2003

Abstract

The requirement that gains be realized before they are subject to income tax is one of the most fundamental doctrines in tax law as well as being one of the most controversial. The common assumption in the academic literature is that this requirement leads to significant inefficiencies and inequities. This article argues that requiring a realization event is generally the best way to measure taxable income because it is consistent with how individuals actually perceive income. This perspective helps us to understand the development of the realization doctrine as well as suggest ways in which the current tax system can be improved, such as exempting some of the amounts reinvested in mutual funds from income taxation.

Keywords: Tax, tax law & policy

JEL Classification: K34

Suggested Citation

Chorvat, Terrence R., Perception and Income: The Behavioral Economics of the Realization Doctrine (2003). George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 03-23. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=407460 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.407460

Terrence R. Chorvat (Contact Author)

George Mason University School of Law ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States
703-993-8208 (Phone)

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