Duncan, Denvil R. (2014). Behavioral responses and the distributional effects of the Russian ‘flat’ tax. Journal of Policy Modeling, 36(2)
This paper simulates the distributional impact of the Russian personal income tax (PIT) following the flat tax reform of 2001 using data from the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey. I decompose the change in the distribution of net income into a direct (tax) effect and an indirect effect. The indirect effect is further decomposed into evasion and productivity effects using existing estimates of these respective elasticities. As expected, the direct tax effect increased net income inequality. Changes in the pre-tax distribution (indirect effect), on the other hand, had a large negative impact on inequality thus leading to an overall decline in net income inequality. I also find that the tax-induced evasion response increased reported net income inequality while reducing consumption inequality. To the extent that consumption approximates actual income, these results demonstrate that the flat tax reform had a much smaller effect on actual income inequality than on reported income inequality. More importantly, relative to non-tax factor, the reform had little overall effect on income inequality. This suggests that objection to flatter tax schedules on the grounds of income inequality is mostly misguided, especially in transitional countries with high levels of evasion.
Journal of Policy Modeling
Duncan, Denvil R.