Tax Incidence

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DEFINITION of 'Tax Incidence'

An economic term for the division of a tax burden between buyers and sellers. Tax incidence is related to the price elasticity of supply and demand. When supply is more elastic than demand, the tax burden falls on the buyers. If demand is more elastic than supply, producers will bear the cost of the tax.

BREAKING DOWN 'Tax Incidence'

Tax incidence reveals which group, the consumers or producers, will pay the price of a new tax. For example, the demand for cigarettes is fairly inelastic, which means that despite changes in price, the demand for cigarettes will remain relatively constant. Let's imagine the government decided to impose an increased tax on cigarettes. In this case, the producers may increase the sale price by the full amount of the tax. If consumers still purchased cigarettes in the same amount after the increase in price, it would be said that the tax incidence fell entirely on the buyers.

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