I'm an Economist at the World Bank's Research Department (DEC-RG) in the Macro and Growth unit, and Research Associate at the Institute for Fiscal Studies. I was an Assistant Professor at the University of Nottingham in 2020--23. My research focuses on Taxation and Public Economics.
I did my Ph.D. at UC Berkeley under the supervision of Emmanuel Saez and received the 2020 National Tax Association’s Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award     (^_^)
This paper shows that governments can use VAT cuts and tax incidence mandates to mitigate the effects of inflation on purchasing power. To do so, we use high-frequency retail scanner data from Argentina, along with a temporary 21 percentage point VAT cut on essential food whose pass-through to prices was encouraged by the government to be 100% for the VAT cut and mandated to be no more than 33% for some products after the VAT increase. We implement a difference-in-differences approach comparing goods that are subject to the VAT cut and/or to the pass-through mandates to those that are not. First, we find that ~60% of the VAT cut is passed through to prices, in contrast to recent empirical findings that the pass-through of VAT cuts tends to be very limited. Second, we show that the tax incidence mandates were successful at ensuring gradual price increases when the VAT cut was repealed. Third, we assess the distributional effects of this policy. While its goal was to guarantee access to necessities for low income households in a period of high inflation, we find that the pass-through rate of the VAT cut in chain supermarkets was double that of independent supermarkets where, we show, low-income households are more likely to shop at. Therefore, while the government was successful at engineering a price decrease using the VAT cut, it partially failed to reach the target population.
Summary for a broader audience: FocoEcónomico
This paper studies the effectiveness of tax amnesties and their impacts on capital taxation and public spending. We leverage rich policy variation from Argentina, where left- and right-wing governments implemented multiple programs and achieved varying success. After numerous failed efforts, its 2016 scheme reportedly revealed assets worth 21% of GDP—the world’s most successful tax amnesty. We use detailed data from fiscal tabulations spanning two decades and obtain three key results. First, despite substantial offshore evasion, declared foreign assets quadrupled after the 2016 amnesty. Second, disclosures were extensive among the wealthiest 0.1% of individuals, who more than doubled their declared assets. Third, improving tax compliance has sizable fiscal externalities on capital taxes and social transfers: the wealth and capital income tax bases more than doubled, and the amnesty’s earmarked revenue boosted pension benefits by 15%. We conclude by discussing the lessons from Argentina’s experience with amnesty programs.
We show that delegating tax collection to large firms can help build tax capacity in weak-enforcement settings. We exploit two reforms in Argentina that dramatically expanded and subsequently reduced turnover tax withholding by firms. Combining firm-to-firm data with regression discontinuity and difference-in-differences methods around revenue eligibility thresholds we find that: (i) large firms appointed as collection agents (CAs) are not affected, (ii) firms commercially linked to CAs self-report more sales by 5.8 percent in response to higher withholding, (iii) firms respond symmetrically to a decrease in withholding by reporting lower sales. Tax-collecting firms can thus boost compliance and tax revenue.
Summary for a broader audience: WB Development Impact Blog
We develop a framework to conduct experiments for estimating direct and spillover effects when units are grouped into mutually exclusive clusters. Crucially, our framework accounts for heterogeneous treatment effects across clusters and heterogeneous cluster sizes, which are pervasive in empirical settings but typically ignored in experimental design. We show that failing to account for cluster heterogeneity in experimental design can severely overestimate power and underestimate minimum detectable effects. We study the large-sample behavior of OLS estimators for direct and spillover effects with heterogeneous clusters and use our results to derive simple formulas to calculate power, minimum detectable effects and optimal cluster assignment probabilities. We also set up a potential outcomes framework that justifies interpreting OLS estimands as causal effects. We apply our methods to design a large-scale experiment to estimate the spillover effects of a communication campaign on property tax compliance. We find an increase in tax compliance among individuals directly targeted with our mailing, as well as compliance spillovers on untreated individuals in street blocks with a high proportion of treated taxpayers.
We explore whether the way in which tax credits are disbursed affects the gross wage of workers. We exploit an unusual reform in Argentina that shifted the disbursement responsibility of child benefits from employers to a government agency in staggered fashion, from 2003 to 2010. Using population-wide administrative data and an event-study approach based on firms' switching date set by the government, we show that the way tax credits are disbursed matters for the final economic incidence. Our evidence suggests that employers capture about 6-14 percent of the transfers through lower wages when they mediate the payments. We argue that in the firm-based system, transfers were likely understood as part of the starting compensation package and employers exploited this confusion to extract rents. Our findings therefore accord with the hypothesis that transfers are not entirely captured dollar for dollar by workers. More generally, this paper suggests that relying on firms as mediators in the tax-benefit system could have unintended consequences; as less salient schemes may lead to rent capture.
We exploit a large, quasi-randomized, 2.5-year-long income tax holiday to identify intertemporal labor responses of high-wage earners to net wage changes. In August 2013, the Argentine government exempted a group of wage earners from the income tax for 2.5 years while leaving in place the tax on other high-wage earners. Eligibility was based on whether past wage earnings were below a fixed threshold, thus levying sharply different marginal and average tax rates—effectively 0% for workers below the threshold. Using rich population-wide administrative data and a regression discontinuity design, we estimate a precise and very small wage earnings elasticity of 0.017 for this large, salient, and temporary income tax change. Responses are larger for more flexible outcomes (overtime hours) and for more elastic groups (job switchers and managers). We also find avoidance responses from new entrants who faced no tax if their first monthly wage was below the fixed threshold. This strategic entry below the threshold to dodge taxes required coordination with employers. Our findings suggest the presence of rigidities in the labor market, which imply that wage earners' responses to tax changes depend largely on substantial coordination with employers.
We disentangle the extent of imperfect competition in product and labor markets using plant-level data. We derive a formula for the ratio between markups and markdowns assuming cost-minimizing firms that face upward-sloping labor supply and downward-sloping product demand curves. We then separate this combined measure of market power by estimating firm-level labor supply elasticities instrumenting wages with a different set of instruments including the use of intermediate inputs, input price shocks, and TFP shocks. Our results suggest that both markets exhibit imperfect competition, but the variation is mainly driven by markups. We also estimate the relative gains of removing market power dispersion on allocative efficiency, finding that markups are more important on TFP than markdowns.
We estimate the response of firms and self-employed workers to two revenue taxes—Monotributo and Gross Receipts Tax—across the turnover distribution using rich administrative data from Argentina. We exploit several revenue-dependent discontinuities that provide incentives to underreport taxable income combined with a bunching design to estimate sales elasticities. We also explore heterogeneities by firm size, type of activities, and type of taxpayers. In the case of small firms, we find sizeable bunching below the thresholds that is stronger for higher tax incentives. The response is stronger in sectors that have more space for manipulation, such as service-based activities. In the case of medium and large firms, bunching is more muted but it suggests that even large firms are able to underreport their gross sales to avoid facing higher tax rates. Firms also seem to find more costly the indirect administrative cost of becoming a collection agent than the direct fiscal cost of the Gross Receipts Tax. We cannot rule out, however, that large firms adjust other margins (or taxes) to compensate for the higher tax pressure.
SELECTED WORK IN PROGRESS
We use high-frequency scanner data along with several hundreds naturally occurring variation in price controls at the barcode level in Argentine supermarkets, to uncover new facts about price controls in a setting of high inflation. We use an event study approach where treated goods (barcodes) are compared to otherwise similar goods. First, we show that price controls are indeed effective at holding prices fixed and observe a high rate of compliance. Second, we find little evidence of wide-spread shortages due to the introduction of price controls. Instead, we observe a large increase in quantities purchased, which double on average, as price controls keep prices lower relative to other goods. Third, prices revert to slightly higher levels once a given barcode is no longer subject to price controls, suggesting that such interventions do not have any long lived effects on inflation. As a result, quantities purchased of the controlled barcodes decrease. We also explore substitution behavior between products subject to price controls and close substitutes. The policy seems to have no distributional effects since it benefits rich and poor households equally.
We study the efficiency and distributional effects of price controls. Despite the controversy surrounding the effects of this regulation, surprisingly little has been done in practice to test the contrasting predictions. In this project, we aim to fill this gap by exploiting scanner data and quasi-experimental variation from price regulations introduced in the Argentine retail sector in 2014. We first study the effect of price controls on the supply of targeted products, spillovers on similar products, and explore how it differs by the level of concentration in the product's industry. Guided by these results, in the second part of the paper we estimate markups at the product level and explore whether price controls can affect the level of concentration in the industry. In the third part, we study the distributional and welfare effects of price controls.
We exploit a series of changes in taxation of overtime hours in France to identify the elasticities of the demand and supply of overtime work. Using both exhaustive linked employer-employee data, administrative data on payroll taxes and survey data on paid vs unpaid overtime hours, we examine the effects of firm- and employee-side taxation on overtime hours, firm-level employment and the probability for firms of declaring or not overtime hours. While overtime work can have potentially large consequences on overall employment and on firms’ capacity to react to shocks, it remains unclear what drives labor demand and supply of overtime. Our project explores these channels.
Two understudied areas in Public Finance are the role of tax professionals and the role of networks in tax administration and enforcement (Slemrod, 2019). In this project I seek to answer two questions: First, whether it is more cost-effective to communicate tax preparers or taxpayers to improve tax compliance; Second, whether there are spillover effects from targeted to non-targeted taxpayers that form part of the same network (those sharing the same accountant). To that end, I run a large scale randomized communication experiment where I send deterrence emails to taxpayers and/or accountants (about 100,000 taxpayers in the treatment group and 900,000 in the control group).
Anatomía del Impuesto a las Ganancias sobre los Asalariados: Argentina 2000-2016
In preparation for Revista de Trabajo (Ministry of Labor, Argentina)
Investment in ICT, Productivity, and Labor Demand (SSRN WP) (Updated version)
(with Irene Brambilla), World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 8325 (January 2018)
Growth in Labor Earnings Across the Income Distribution: Latin America During the 2000s
(with Irene Brambilla), CEDLAS, Working Papers 182, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, 2015.
An Empirical Analysis of Mark-ups in the Argentine Manufacturing Sector
(with Irene Brambilla), Department of Economics, Working Papers 104, Departamento de Economía, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, 2014.
Female Labor Supply and Fertility. Causal Evidence for Latin America
CEDLAS, Working Papers 0166, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, 2013.
Measuring Poverty in Argentina: the Food Energy Intake Method
(with Malena Arcidiácono), XLVII Annual Meeting of the Argentine Association of Political Economy, 2012.
Fiscal Decentralization and Economic Integration in Mercosur: Argentina and Brazil
(with Alberto Porto, Natalia Porto), Latin American Business Review, 15:3-4, 225-252, DOI: 10.1080/10978526.2014.931787
"Glocalization" and decentralization. The role of local governments in the new international context
(with Alberto Porto, Natalia Porto), Urban Public Economics Review, num. 20, pp. 62-93.
Chapters in books
La Calidad de la Administración Tributaria como Insumo de la Función de Producción Recaudatoria
(with A. Porto and W. Rosales), In Porto A. (editor), Temas de Economía de los Gobiernos Municipales, Buenos Aires: Ed. DUNKEN. 2012. ISBN: 978-987-02-6003-5.
Economía Pública: Impuestos (in Spanish), Maestría UNLP --- [SEE CONTENT]
Economía Pública: Impuestos -- Spring'23
Esta pagina contiene los materiales del medio-curso Economía Pública: Impuestos para estudiantes de la Maestría en Economía de la Universidad Nacional de La Plata (UNLP). El curso cubre temas como estructura y diseño óptimo de impuestos sobre la renta y transferencias de dinero, comportamiento de las personas (decisiones laborales, elusión y evasión), modelos de evasión, e incidencia económica. El curso combina teoría y evidencia empírica sobre temas de política actual, como las reformas fiscales y los programas de transferencia utilizando varios métodos econométricos.
Repaso: Basic theory tools (ver solos)
Clase 1: Intro to Public Economics and Overview of income tax-benefit system
Income tax in Argentina and Quiz (MTR and ATR)
Clase 2: Optimal Labor Income Taxation
Clase 3: Optimal Design of Transfers
Clase 4: Labor Supply and Taxable Income Responses to Taxes and Transfers
Clase 5: Tax Enforcement
Aplicación: Impuestos sobre la propiedad
Clase 6: Tax Incidence
Bonus lecture: Doing Tax Research with Admin Data
Advanced Public Economics -- Fall'22
This page contains course materials for Advanced Public Economics for year-3 undergrads. The course covers topics such as tax and welfare policy, income taxation, social security programs, tax enforcement, tax incidence, and public goods. The course combines theory along with empirical research on current policy issues such as inequality and poverty, tax reforms, and cash transfer programs using various econometric methods.
Week 1: Introduction to Public Economics
Week 2: Inequality, Poverty, Taxes and Transfers
Week 3: Overview of the UK Tax and Benefit System
Week 4: Optimal Labour Income Taxation
Week 5: Optimal Design of Transfers
Week 6: Labor Supply Responses to Taxes and Transfers
Week 7: Taxable Income Responses to Taxation
Week 8: Tax Enforcement
Week 9: Tax Incidence
Week 10: Public Goods
Bonus lecture: How to do Tax Research with Admin Data
Teaching Evaluation from Students /// (scores)
Teaching Award /// (certificate)
Economic Policy Analysis --- [SEE CONTENT]
Economic Policy Analysis II -- Spring'22
This page contains course materials for Economic Policy Analysis II co-taught with Bouwe Dijkstra. My part of the course focuses on optimal income tax and transfer theory and the empirical literature that estimates behavioural responses to progressive tax systems.
Slides 1: Introduction and Overview of the UK system
Slides 2: Optimal Income Tax and Transfers
Slides 3: Labor Supply Responses to Taxes and Transfers
Slides 4: Taxable Income Responses to Taxation
Evaluación de Políticas Públicas (in Spanish)--- [VER CONTENIDO]
Política Pública en Acción: Analisis y Evaluación de Políticas Públicas -- Julio 2022
En este curso se realiza una revisión general de herramientas econométricas utilizadas en la evaluación de políticas públicas (clases en Zoom) y se discuten aplicaciones de papers recientes que buscan estimar el impacto causal de diferentes políticas (clases presenciales).
Slides 1: Contrafactuales, Analisis de Regresion, Matching
Slides 2: Asignacion Aleatoria, Variables Instrumentales
Slides 3: Diseno de Regresion Discontinua
Slides 4: Diff-in-Diff, Event Studies, Control Sintetico
Slides 5: Aplicaciones de Asignacion Aleatoria
====> Ejemplo Randomizacion en Excel
Slides 6: Aplicaciones de RDD
Slides 7: Aplicaciones de Diff-in-Diff y Control Sintetico
Public Economics 131 (Prof. Emmanuel Saez), Spring 2017 --- [SEE CONTENT]
ECON 131: Public Economics (Spring'17)
This page contains section notes and other course materials
for ECON 131: Public Economics taught by Emmanuel Saez.
Office hours: Fridays 3-6pm, 630 Evans Hall
Section 1: Optimization Review -Updated 2017- /// (Solutions)
Section 2: Empirical Tools -Updated 2017- /// (Solutions)
Section 3: Tax Incidence and Efficiency Costs -Updated 2017- /// (Solutions)
Section 4: Labor Income Taxation -Updated 2017- /// (Solutions)
Section 5: Labor Income Taxation (cont.) -Updated 2017- /// (Solutions)
Section 6: Capital Income and Savings Taxation -Updated 2017- /// (Solutions)
Section 7: Externalities -Updated 2017- /// (Solutions)
Section 8: Public Goods -Updated 2017- /// (Solutions)
Section 9: Voting, Tiebout Model, and Local Public Finance -Updated 2017- /// (Solutions)
Section 10: Social Security and Insurance -Updated 2017- /// (Solutions)
Section 11: Moral Hazard and Social Security -Updated 2017- /// (Solutions)