DP10833 Behavioral Responses to Local Tax Rates: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from a Foreigners' Tax Scheme in Switzerland

Author(s): Kurt Schmidheiny, Michaela Slotwinski
Publication Date: September 2015
Keyword(s): income bunching, income taxes, regression discontinuity design, tax induced mobility
JEL(s): H24, H31, J61
Programme Areas: International Trade and Regional Economics
Link to this Page: www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=10833

We study behavioral responses to local income taxes exploiting a special tax regime which applies to foreign employees residing in Switzerland. The used institutional setting generates two thresholds through which locally heterogeneous taxation is assigned: An income threshold at 120,000 Swiss francs and a duration threshold at 5 years of stay in Switzerland. We exploit these thresholds by applying a discontinuity in density design and a fuzzy RDD to administrative income data. We find causal evidence for strategic income bunching for wage earners and tax induced intra-national mobility. Several pieces of evidence suggest that individuals have to "learn the tax code" and that knowledge and information transmission through local networks plays a major role in the behavioral response to tax incentives.