Inflation and the Excess Taxation of Capital Gains on Corporate Stock
NBER Working Paper No. 234 (Also Reprint No. r0002)
The present study shows that in 1973 individuals paid nearly $500 million of extra tax on corporate stock capital gains because of the distorting effect of inflation. A detailed analysis shows that the distortion was greatest for middle income sellers of corporate stock. In 1973, individuals paid capital gains tax on more than $4.5 billion of nominal capital gains on corporate stock. If the costs of these shares are adjusted for the increases in the consumer price level since they were purchased, the $4.5 billion nominal gain becomes a real capital loss of nearly $1 billion. As a result of this incorrect measurement of capital gains, individuals with similar real capital gains were subject to very different total tax liabilities. These findings are based on a new body of official tax return data on individual sales of corporate stock.