Income taxation and the allocation of market labor

Research paper by James E. Long

Indexed on: 01 Sep '82Published on: 01 Sep '82Published in: Journal of Labor Research


The allocation of work effort within the market economy will be unaffected by taxation if all returns from labor market activity are taxed equally. However, if the earnings from certain types of market employment are taxed at relatively lower rates, labor will shift into these areas until after-tax earnings are equal across all types of employment. This paper presents evidence suggesting that income taxation induces labor to move from high- to low-tax geographic areas and from wage and salaried jobs into self-employment activities. By affecting the allocation of market labor, the income tax generates a welfare loss in addition to that resulting from the tax’s effect on total work effort.