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Solving the Yitzhaki Paradox

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  • Gwenola Trotin

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    (Aix-Marseille University (Aix-Marseille School of Economics), CNRS & EHESS)

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    Abstract

    This paper examines the determinants of tax evasion under prospect theory. For prospect theory, reference dependence is a fundamental element (the utility function depends on gains and losses relative to a reference point and not on final wealths as in expected utility theory). In order to identify the determinants of the income tax evasion decision, a general reference income is used. We show that results obtained under expected utility theory are not robust. In particular, tax evasion is increasing in the tax rate as soon as a suitable relative risk aversion measure is larger with auditing, than without. With this simple and testable condition, prospect theory provides a general framework consistent with empirical evidence for the tax evasion behaviour problem.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Aix-Marseille School of Economics, Marseille, France in its series AMSE Working Papers with number 1238.

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    Length: 21 pages
    Date of creation: 03 Sep 2012
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:aim:wpaimx:1238

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    Keywords: Tax evasion; Prospect theory; Reference dependence; Decision weights.;

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    1. Dhami, Sanjit & al-Nowaihi, Ali, 2007. "Why do people pay taxes? Prospect theory versus expected utility theory," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 171-192, September.
    2. James Andreoni & Brian Erard & Jonathan Feinstein, 1998. "Tax Compliance," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 818-860, June.
    3. Michele Bernasconi & Alberto Zanardi, 2004. "Tax Evasion, Tax Rates, and Reference Dependence," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 60(3), pages 422-, September.
    4. Clotfelter, Charles T, 1983. "Tax Evasion and Tax Rates: An Analysis of Individual Returns," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(3), pages 363-73, August.
    5. Matthew Rabin, 2001. "Risk Aversion and Expected-Utility Theory: A Calibration Theorem," Method and Hist of Econ Thought 0012001, EconWPA.
    6. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. " Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
    7. Erling Eide, 2001. "Rank dependent expected utility models of tax evasion," ICER Working Papers 27-2001, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
    8. Yaniv, Gideon, 1999. "Tax Compliance and Advance Tax Payments: A Prospect Theory Analysis," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 4), pages 753-64, December.
    9. Joel Slemrod & Shlomo Yitzhaki, 2000. "Tax Avoidance, Evasion, and Administration," NBER Working Papers 7473, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Allingham, Michael G. & Sandmo, Agnar, 1972. "Income tax evasion: a theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3-4), pages 323-338, November.
    11. Drazen Prelec, 1998. "The Probability Weighting Function," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(3), pages 497-528, May.
    12. Friedland, Nehemiah & Maital, Shlomo & Rutenberg, Aryeh, 1978. "A simulation study of income tax evasion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 107-116, August.
    13. Chris Starmer, 2000. "Developments in Non-expected Utility Theory: The Hunt for a Descriptive Theory of Choice under Risk," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(2), pages 332-382, June.
    14. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
    15. Alm, James & McClelland, Gary H. & Schulze, William D., 1992. "Why do people pay taxes?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 21-38, June.
    16. Matthew Rabin & Richard H. Thaler, 2001. "Anomalies: Risk Aversion," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 219-232, Winter.
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