Does Tax Simplification Yield More Equity and Efficiency? An Empirical Analysis for Germany

Finanzwissenschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge Paper No. 06-5

24 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2006

See all articles by Clemens Fuest

Clemens Fuest

ifo Institute – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich; Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich; Center for Economic Studies (CES)

Andreas Peichl

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research; University of Mannheim - School of Economics (VWL); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; University of Essex - Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER)

Thilo Schaefer

Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Köln

Date Written: July 2006

Abstract

This paper investigates the impact of tax simplification on various indicators of the efficiency of the tax system and on the distribution of income. The analysis is based on a simulation model (FiFoSiM) using German income tax and household survey microdata. We model tax simplification as the abolition of a set of deductions from the tax base included in the German income tax system. We find that this form of tax base simplification leads to a reduction in the use of professional tax advice, a more equitable income distribution and an increase in tax revenue. If these measures are combined with a reduction of income tax rates to preserve revenue neutrality, the effects depend on the type of rate schedule adjustment. The combination with a flat rate tax implies redistribution in favour of very high incomes, and an overall increase in income inequality. Efficiency effects in terms of changes in marginal tax rates and labor supply effects are mixed. The combination with a rate schedule adjustment which preserves the directly progressive rate schedule yields a tax reform which reduces the inequality of after tax incomes. We conclude that tax simplification may improve the efficiency of the tax system without increasing inequality of after tax income.

Keywords: Income distribution, polarisation, tax simplification, flat tax

JEL Classification: D3, H2, J22

Suggested Citation

Fuest, Clemens and Peichl, Andreas and Schaefer, Thilo, Does Tax Simplification Yield More Equity and Efficiency? An Empirical Analysis for Germany (July 2006). Finanzwissenschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge Paper No. 06-5. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=931129 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.931129

Clemens Fuest

ifo Institute – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE 81679
Germany
++89-9224-1430 (Phone)

Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich ( email )

Schackstrasse 4 / II
Munich, DE 80539
Germany

Center for Economic Studies (CES) ( email )

Schackstr. 4
Munich, DE 80539
Germany
++89 2180-2748 (Phone)
++89 2180-17845 (Fax)

Andreas Peichl (Contact Author)

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research ( email )

P.O. Box 10 34 43
L 7,1
D-68034 Mannheim, 68034
Germany

University of Mannheim - School of Economics (VWL) ( email )

Mannheim 68131
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

University of Essex - Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER)

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

Thilo Schaefer

Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Köln ( email )

50668 Koeln
Germany

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