Changes in the Distribution of Income Among Tax Filers Between 1996 and 2006: The Role of Labor Income, Capital Income, and Tax Policy
This report examines changes in income inequality among tax filers between 1996 and 2006. In particular, the role of changes in wages, capital income, and tax policy, especially the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, is investigated. During this period, there were changes in the sources of income that differed by income category and there were changes in tax policy. The years 1996 and 2006 are examined for several reasons. First, both years were at approximately similar points of the business-cycle with moderate inflation (about 3%), a modest unemployment rate (about 5%), and moderate economic growth (3.7% in 1996 and 2.7% in 2006). Second, 2006 was the year before the August 2007 liquidity crunch and the onset of the severe 2007-2009 recession. Third, there were major tax policy changes between these two years. Fourth, both 1996 and 2006 were three years after the enactment of tax legislation that affected tax rates and are unlikely to be affected by short-run behavioral responses to these changes.
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