The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Alexander Klemm, Li Liu, Victor Mylonas, and Philippe Wingender
INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND
This paper assesses a possible explanation for the global downward trend in top personal income tax rates over the last decades: globalization and the related tax evasion and avoidance opportunities could have raised elasticities of taxable income, which would imply lower optimal tax rates. The paper estimates elasticities of taxable income for top income earners using a large sample of economies and years with a common method, allowing an analysis of trends in such elasticities. The paper finds that elasticities do not appear to exhibit any clear pattern over the years. The downward trend in tax rates must have other possible explanations, which are briefly discussed.