Warning: Declaration of action_plugin_safefnrecode::register(Doku_Event_Handler &$controller) should be compatible with DokuWiki_Action_Plugin::register($controller) in /home/public/dw/lib/plugins/safefnrecode/action.php on line 14

Warning: Declaration of action_plugin_blog::register(&$contr) should be compatible with DokuWiki_Action_Plugin::register($controller) in /home/public/dw/lib/plugins/blog/action.php on line 0

Warning: Declaration of action_plugin_blockquote::register(&$controller) should be compatible with DokuWiki_Action_Plugin::register($controller) in /home/public/dw/lib/plugins/blockquote/action.php on line 0

Warning: Declaration of action_plugin_include::register(&$controller) should be compatible with DokuWiki_Action_Plugin::register($controller) in /home/public/dw/lib/plugins/include/action.php on line 0

Warning: Declaration of action_plugin_popularity::register(&$controller) should be compatible with DokuWiki_Action_Plugin::register($controller) in /home/public/dw/lib/plugins/popularity/action.php on line 0

Warning: Declaration of action_plugin_redirect::register(&$controller) should be compatible with DokuWiki_Action_Plugin::register($controller) in /home/public/dw/lib/plugins/redirect/action.php on line 0

Warning: Declaration of action_plugin_captcha::register(&$controller) should be compatible with DokuWiki_Action_Plugin::register($controller) in /home/public/dw/lib/plugins/captcha/action.php on line 0

Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/dw/inc/auth.php on line 656

Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/dw/inc/auth.php on line 656

Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/dw/inc/auth.php on line 656

Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/dw/inc/auth.php on line 656

Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/dw/inc/auth.php on line 656

Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/dw/inc/auth.php on line 656

Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/dw/inc/auth.php on line 656

Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/dw/inc/auth.php on line 656

Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/dw/inc/auth.php on line 656

Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/dw/inc/auth.php on line 656

Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/dw/inc/auth.php on line 656

Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/dw/inc/auth.php on line 656

Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/dw/inc/auth.php on line 656

Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/dw/inc/auth.php on line 656

Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/dw/inc/auth.php on line 656

Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/dw/inc/auth.php on line 656

Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/dw/inc/auth.php on line 656

Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/dw/inc/auth.php on line 656

Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/dw/inc/auth.php on line 656

Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/dw/inc/auth.php on line 656

Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/dw/inc/auth.php on line 656
Don't try to deduce too much from withholding data [ClearOnMoney]
Top

Site

About
Contact

Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/dw/inc/auth.php on line 656
Sitemap

Profile

Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/dw/inc/auth.php on line 656
Trace:
Don't try to deduce too much from withholding data

Reference

Main
Updates
Schedule

Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/dw/inc/auth.php on line 656

Warning: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is no longer supported, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/dw/inc/auth.php on line 656
Commentary

Don't try to deduce too much from withholding data

20 Jan 2011 by Jim Fickett.

Some are trying to explain the rise in household spending by resorting to tax withholding data. But one cannot really deduce income changes from withholding changes.

Many commentators wonder how consumer spending can be growing so quickly. One suggestion that has been making the rounds is that household income is really growing much faster than the Bureau of Economic Analysis says it is. For example, from a recent column by Caroline Baum at Bloomberg:

There’s another possibility that would better explain the inconsistency between weak job and income growth on the one hand and robust spending on the other.

“I think a credible case can be made that income and employment are being understated,” says Joe Carson, director of economic research at AllianceBernstein.

Exhibit 1 is Treasury data showing that fourth-quarter withheld income tax receipts rose 17 percent from a year earlier, according to Carson. “How can personal income be up 4 percent” when withholding rose more than four times that rate?

Here are the data:

(Withholding is from the Daily treasury statement archive, household income and its largest component, employee compensation, are from NIPA table 2.6. Click for larger image.)

The year-over-year change in withholding is very noisy, probably because payday is usually on a Friday and the number of Fridays in a month can vary. But it is still clear that (1) Mr. Carson has got his facts wrong; withholding did not rise 17% in Q4, and (2) withholding dropped more during the recession, and rose more during the recovery, than did compensation or total income.

Does this mean the income data are wrong? I don't think so; I think it means that we have a progressive tax. Imagine an extreme case – a country where the tax rate was zero up to $50,000, and 100% after that. If you were earning $52,000, and your income dropped 2% to $51,000, your tax would drop 50%. Then in the recovery your income might rise 2% again and your tax would rise 100%. The US tax rates are not quite that progressive, but it is still true that, for example, for a minimum wage worker whose hours dropped, the drop in that fraction of income that was above the exemption and standard deduction could be dramatic.

The great value of the withholding data is that it is timely – the Treasury releases a daily report. But the tax code is complicated; it is a mistake to try to extrapolate quantitatively from withholding to income.