Do household tax credits increase consumption? The role of demand elasticity and the extent of demand∗
This paper studies the effects of household tax credit (HTC) on service demand and tax evasion. HTC is a tax credit for consumers to reclaim a share of the labor costs of home improvement services, such as renovation and cleaning work. The aim of this widely used tax credit has been both to increase demand for services to boost employment in the service sector and to curb tax evasion. We use data on firm-level monthly value added tax reports and annual tax filings to study the effects of the introduction of HTC for home cleaning services in Sweden in July 2007 together with a difference-in-differences approach using small Finnish service sector firms as a control group. Our results show that, at best, the HTC system has very limited effects on demand for services in the cleaning sector. We provide counterfactual analysis suggesting that the demand elasticity is low, and that the extent of population consuming cleaning services could be low, which is important to consider in ex ante policy analysis. In addition, we do not find HTC to be efficient
in reducing tax evasion. Our survey evidence suggests that consumers are poorly informed about the details of HTC rules, which is one likely explanation for the limited responses to the tax credit.
Do household tax credits increase consumption? The role of demand elasticity and the extent of demand∗. Jarkko Harju (Tampere University), Sami Jysmä (Tampere University & Labour Institute for Economic Research, Aliisa Koivisto (VATT Institute for Economic Research and Tuomas Kosonen (VATT Institute for Economic Research), FIT working paper 8.
JEL classification codes: H24, H25, H26, H31
Keywords: Household tax credit, demand, employment, consumer price, tax evasion