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Who Participates in Tax Avoidance?

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  • Annette Alstadsæter
  • Martin Jacob

Abstract

This paper analyzes the sources of heterogeneity in legal tax avoidance strategies across individuals. Three conditions are required for a taxpayer to participate in tax avoidance: incentive, access, and awareness. Using rich Swedish administrative panel data with a unique link between corporate and individual tax returns, we analyze individual participation in legal tax planning around the 2006 Swedish tax reform. Our results suggest that closely held corporations are utilized to facilitate income shifting across tax bases to reduce the individual’s overall tax burden. We find that both tax incentives and awareness of tax incentives impact the decision to access income-shifting opportunities. Our results show that factors explaining participation in legal tax avoidance substantially differ from those explaining participation in illegal tax evasion.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 4219.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4219

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Keywords: tax avoidance; income shifting; income taxation; dividend taxation;

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  1. Damon Jones, 2012. "Inertia and Overwithholding: Explaining the Prevalence of Income Tax Refunds," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 158-85, February.
  2. Slemrod, Joel & Blumenthal, Marsha & Christian, Charles, 2001. "Taxpayer response to an increased probability of audit: evidence from a controlled experiment in Minnesota," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 455-483, March.
  3. Chetty, Raj & Saez, Emmanuel, 2004. "Dividend Taxes and Corporate Behaviour: Evidence from the 2003 Dividend Tax Cut," CEPR Discussion Papers 4722, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Gordon, Roger H. & MacKie-Mason, Jeffrey K., 1994. "Tax distortions to the choice of organizational form," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 279-306, October.
  5. Stephens, Melvin Jr & Ward-Batts, Jennifer, 2004. "The impact of separate taxation on the intra-household allocation of assets: evidence from the UK," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1989-2007, August.
  6. Romanov, Dmitri, 2006. "The corporation as a tax shelter: Evidence from recent Israeli tax changes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(10-11), pages 1939-1954, November.
  7. Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2004. "Tax Evasion and Social Interactions," Post-Print halshs-00175016, HAL.
  8. Emmanuel Saez & Joel Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2012. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(1), pages 3-50, March.
  9. James Andreoni & Brian Erard & Jonathan Feinstein, 1998. "Tax Compliance," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 818-860, June.
  10. Wojciech Kopczuk, 2007. "Bequest and Tax Planning: Evidence from Estate Tax Returns," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1801-1854, November.
  11. Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Martin B. Knudsen & Claus Thustrup Kreiner & Søren Pedersen & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "Unwilling or Unable to Cheat? Evidence From a Tax Audit Experiment in Denmark," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(3), pages 651-692, 05.
  12. Austan Goolsbee, 1997. "What Happens When You Tax the Rich? Evidence from Executive Compensation," NBER Working Papers 6333, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Amy Finkelstein, 2009. "E-ZTAX: Tax Salience and Tax Rates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(3), pages 969-1010, August.
  14. Emmanuel Saez, 1999. "Do Taxpayers Bunch at Kink Points?," NBER Working Papers 7366, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2009. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1145-77, September.
  16. Bastani, Spencer & Selin, Håkan, 2014. "Bunching and non-bunching at kink points of the Swedish tax schedule," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 36-49.
  17. Elschner, Christina, 2013. "Special tax regimes and the choice of organizational form: Evidence from the European Tonnage Taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 206-216.
  18. Wojciech Kopczuk & Joel Slemrod, 2006. "Putting Firms into Optimal Tax Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 130-134, May.
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