Behavioral Responses to Wealth Taxes: Evidence from Switzerland

We study how reported wealth responds to changes in wealth tax rates. Exploiting rich intra-national variation in Switzerland, we find that a 1 percentage point drop in the wealth tax rate raises reported wealth by at least 43% after 6 years. Administrative tax records of two cantons with quasi-randomly assigned differential tax reforms suggest that 24% of the effect arise from taxpayer mobility and 20% from house price capitalization. Savings responses appear unable to explain more than a small fraction of the remainder, suggesting sizable evasion responses in this setting with no third-party reporting of financial wealth.

with Jonathan Gruber, Matthias Krapf and Kurt Schmidheiny, forthcoming, American Economic Journal: Economic Policy. See manuscript (online appendix)