The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Excess Burden of Taxation

  • James R. HinesJr.
Reference work entry


The excess burden of taxation is the efficiency cost, or deadweight loss, associated with taxation. Excess burden is commonly measured by the area of the associated Harberger triangle, though accurate measurement requires the use of compensated demand and supply schedules. The generation of empirical excess burden studies that followed Arnold Harberger’s pioneering work in the 1960s measured the costs of tax distortions to labour supply, saving, capital allocation, and other economic decisions. More recent work estimates excess burdens based on the effects of taxation on more comprehensive measures of taxable income, reporting sizable excess burdens of existing taxes.


Dupuit, A.-J.-E. J. Excess burden of taxation Harberger triangle Jenkin, H. C. F. Path dependence Tax evasion Taxable income 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • James R. HinesJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.