The Bunching of Capital Gains Realizations

Research Report

The Bunching of Capital Gains Realizations

Abstract

We model taxpayer decisions to realize or delay their capital gains and losses. We use a unique data set of capital asset sales to examine the shifting of gains across time periods with different tax rates, but eliminates the effect of the large pool of accrued gains that enlarge previous estimates. We find strong evidence that taxpayers realize fewer gains in the weeks prior to reduction in tax rates. However the magnitude of the responses are small. We find that high income taxpayers are more responsive than others and that taxpayers reduce their tax liability by pairing gains and losses.

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