January 2017, No. 17-02
The Effects of Collecting Income Taxes on Social Security Benefits
John Bailey Jones and Yue Li, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
Since 1983, Social Security benefits have been subject to income taxation, a provision that can significantly increase the marginal income tax rate for older individuals. To assess the impact of this tax, we construct and calibrate a detailed life-cycle model of labor supply, saving, and Social Security claiming. We find that in a long-run stationary environment, replacing the taxation of Social Security benefits with a revenue-equivalent increase in the payroll tax would significantly increase labor supply, consumption and welfare. From an ex-ante perspective an even more desirable reform would be to make the portion of benefits subject to income taxes completely independent of other income.