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The Role of Capital Income for Top Incomes Shares in Germany

Abstract : A large literature has documented top income share series based on income tax statistics using the common methodology established by Piketty (2001, 2003). The widespread disappearance of capital income from the income tax base poses a major challenge to the comparability of these series both over time and between countries. In Germany, capital income was gradually excluded from the income tax base between 2001 and 2009. Using a rich data set containing all income taxpayers’ files we provide a homogeneous top income share series including full capital incomes from 2001 to 2010. Missing capital income since 2009 is extrapolated using a composite measure of stock dividends and interest income tax flows. We find that up to the top percentile the drop displayed in the German raw-data series in 2009 is largely attributable to the disappearance of capital income from the income tax base and not to the crisis. However, the very top of the income distribution is disproportionately hit by the crisis.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-02654332
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Charlotte Bartels, Katharina Jenderny. The Role of Capital Income for Top Incomes Shares in Germany. 2015. ⟨halshs-02654332⟩

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