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Title: Essays in the economics of taxes and transfers across the lifecycle
Author: Shaw, J. M.
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis contains four papers on the economics of taxes and transfers across the lifecycle. The first paper takes an ex post perspective and considers the lifetime distributional impact of tax and transfer reforms. It shows that, accounting for realistic patterns of mobility in employment, earnings and household circumstances, a lifecycle perspective greatly affects assessments of the distributional effects of tax and transfer reforms. The focus is on three reforms modelled in the UK context: (i) changes to out-of-work versus in-work benefits, (ii) adjustments to income tax rates, and (iii) reforms to indirect taxation. In all three cases, the long-run distributional impact differs to a standard cross-section analysis in important ways. The second paper takes an ex ante perspective, seeking to understand how much redistribution and insurance tax and transfer systems achieve across the lifecycle, and what value individuals place on these components. The paper again focuses on the UK system, finding that it does substantially more within-individual redistribution and insurance and less between-individual redistribution and insurance than a flat-rate baseline. This reflects the fact that many of the circumstances that taxes and transfers condition on are transitory. A substantial welfare value is attached to the insurance component, but additional within-individual redistribution is worthless, even in the presence of strict borrowing constraints. The third paper provides an empirical account of the dynamic return to work, and how this is affected by taxes and benefits. Previous literature has focused on the current period return. The paper defines two new summary measures that incorporate future returns - the forward-looking replacement rate (FLRR) and the forward-looking participation tax rate (FLPTR) - and implements them using simulated data for the UK. The results show that the dynamic return to work is much higher than a static measure would imply but that a dynamic perspective makes relatively little difference to the extent to which personal taxes and transfers reduce the return to work. The fourth paper studies the dynamic benefits of conducting audits, focusing on how the reported tax liability of audited individuals responds after an audit. Exploiting data from a random audit program covering income tax self-assessment returns in the UK, the paper finds that audits have a significant positive - but short-lived - impact on reported tax liability. The response is concentrated among types of income that are subject to little or no third-party reporting.
Supervisor: Blundell, R. ; Mogstad, M. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available