Economics Department


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Published in TAX POLICY LESSONS FROM THE 2000s, ed. Alan D. Viard (Washington, DC: AEI Press, 2009).


There are two aspects of Seth Giertz's excellent chapter that I want to talk about. One is slightly technical; I want to try to provide some explanation for why estimating elasticity of taxable income (ETI) is so difficult. I think this difficulty is unappreciated by nonspecialists, who are quick to latch onto a favorite estimate without understanding the weaknesses in the estimation. The other aspect is a bit more philosophical and addresses the different functions of the partial equilibrium analysis done here and the general equilibrium work done a few years back in the macro group at the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Perhaps surprisingly, I strongly endorse the partial equilibrium approach taken here for the comparison of tax reforms.

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