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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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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2013/wp-cesifo-2013-04/cesifo1_wp4219.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

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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References

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  1. Fortin, Bernard & Lacroix, Guy & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2004. "Tax Evasion and Social Interactions," IZA Discussion Papers 1359, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Raj Chetty & Emmanuel Saez, 2004. "Dividend Taxes and Corporate Behavior: Evidence from the 2003 Dividend Tax Cut," NBER Working Papers 10841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2007. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 13330, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Gordon, R.H. & Mackie-Mason, J.K., 1993. "Tax Distorsions to the Choice of Organizational Form," Memorandum 21/1993, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  6. 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.
  7. Wojciech Kopczuk, 2006. "Bequest and Tax Planning: Evidence From Estate Tax Returns," NBER Working Papers 12701, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Wojciech Kopczuk & Joel Slemrod, 2006. "Putting Firms into Optimal Tax Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 130-134, May.
  9. Spencer Bastani & Håkan Selin, 2012. "Bunching and Non-Bunching at Kink Points of the Swedish Tax Schedule," CESifo Working Paper Series 3865, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. Emmanuel Saez & Joel B. Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2009. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review," NBER Working Papers 15012, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. 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.
  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. James Andreoni & Brian Erard & Jonathan Feinstein, 1998. "Tax Compliance," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 818-860, June.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "Do Taxpayers Bunch at Kink Points?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 180-212, August.
  17. Joel Slemrod & Marsha Blumenthal & Charles Christian, 2001. "Taxpayer response to an increased probability of audit: Evidence from a controlled experiment in minnesota," Natural Field Experiments 00332, The Field Experiments Website.
  18. Amy Finkelstein, 2009. "E-ZTAX: Tax Salience and Tax Rates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(3), pages 969-1010, August.
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