Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Why Can Modern Governments Tax So Much? An Agency Model of Firms as Fiscal Intermediaries

Contents:

Author Info

  • Henrik Jacobsen Kleven
  • Claus Thustrup Kreiner
  • Emmanuel Saez

Abstract

This paper presents a simple agency model to explain why third-party income reporting by employers dramatically improves income tax enforcement. Modern firms have a large number of employees and carry out complex production tasks, which requires the use of accurate business records. Because such records are widely used within the firm, any single employee can denounce collusive tax cheating between employees and the employer by revealing the true records to the government. We show that, if a firm is large enough, such whistleblowing threats will make tax enforcement successful even with low penalties and low audit rates. Embedding this agency model into the standard Allingham-Sandmo tax evasion model, we show that third-party reporting improves tax enforcement if the government disallows self-reported losses or audits such losses more stringently, which fits with actual tax policy practices. We also embed the agency model into a simple macroeconomic growth model where the size of firms grows with exogenous technological progress. In early stages of development, firms are small, tax rates are severely constrained by enforcement, and the size of government is too small. As firm size increases, the enforcement constraint is slackened, and government size is growing. In late stages of development, firm size is sufficiently large to make third-party tax enforcement completely effective and government size is socially optimal.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15218.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15218.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: Aug 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15218

Note: PE
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Email:
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Alan T. Peacock & Jack Wiseman, 1961. "The Growth of Public Expenditure in the United Kingdom," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number peac61-1, July.
  2. James R. Tybout, 2000. "Manufacturing Firms in Developing Countries: How Well Do They Do, and Why?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 11-44, March.
  3. Besley, Timothy J. & Persson, Torsten, 2009. "State Capacity, Conflict and Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 7336, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521821759 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. James Kau & Paul Rubin, 1981. "The size of government," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 261-274, January.
  6. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A, 1998. "Why did the West Extend the Franchise? Democracy, Inequality and Growth in Historical Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 1797, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Dominik H. Enste & Friedrich Schneider, 2000. "Shadow Economies: Size, Causes, and Consequences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 77-114, March.
  9. Peltzman, Sam, 1980. "The Growth of Government," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(2), pages 209-87, October.
  10. Toke Aidt & Peter Jensen, 2009. "Tax structure, size of government, and the extension of the voting franchise in Western Europe, 1860–1938," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 362-394, June.
  11. Barro, Robert J., 1990. "Government Spending in a Simple Model of Endogeneous Growth," Scholarly Articles 3451296, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  12. Costas Aariadis & John Stachurski, 2004. "Poverty Traps," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 913, The University of Melbourne.
    • Azariadis, Costas & Stachurski, John, 2005. "Poverty Traps," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 5 Elsevier.
  13. Joel Slemrod, 2007. "Cheating Ourselves: The Economics of Tax Evasion," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(1), pages 25-48, Winter.
  14. Besley, Timothy J. & Persson, Torsten, 2007. "The Origins of State Capacity: Property Rights, Taxation, and Politics," CEPR Discussion Papers 6370, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Ralph-C Bayer & Frank Cowell, 2006. "Tax Compliance and Firms' Strategic Interdependence," School of Economics Working Papers 2006-09, University of Adelaide, School of Economics.
  16. Dharmapala, Dhammika & Slemrod, Joel & Wilson, John Douglas, 2011. "Tax policy and the missing middle: Optimal tax remittance with firm-level administrative costs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(9-10), pages 1036-1047, October.
  17. Richard M. Bird, 2014. "Administrative Dimensions of Tax Reform," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 15(2), pages 963-992, November.
  18. Kong-Pin & C.Y. Cyrus Chu, 2005. "Internal Control versus External Manipulation: A Model of Corporate Income Tax Evasion," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(1), pages 151-164, Spring.
  19. Winer, Stanley L. & Hettich, Walter, 1991. "Debt and tariffs : An empirical investigation of the evolution of revenue systems," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 215-242, July.
  20. Keith J. Crocker & Joel Slemrod, 2004. "Corporate Tax Evasion with Agency Costs," NBER Working Papers 10690, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Michael Keen, 2007. "VAT, Tariffs, and withholding," IMF Working Papers 07/174, International Monetary Fund.
  22. James Andreoni & Brian Erard & Jonathan Feinstein, 1998. "Tax Compliance," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 818-860, June.
  23. Joel Slemrod, 2004. "The Economics of Corporate Tax Selfishness," NBER Working Papers 10858, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Wojciech Kopczuk & Joel Slemrod, 2006. "Putting Firms into Optimal Tax Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 130-134, May.
  25. Lawrence Kenny & Stanley Winer, 2006. "Tax Systems in the World: An Empirical Investigation into the Importance of Tax Bases, Administration Costs, Scale and Political Regime," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 181-215, May.
  26. 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.
  27. Gordon, Roger & Li, Wei, 2009. "Tax structures in developing countries: Many puzzles and a possible explanation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 855-866, August.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Kumler, Todd J. & Verhoogen, Eric & Frias, Judith A., 2013. "Enlisting Employees in Improving Payroll-Tax Compliance: Evidence from Mexico," IZA Discussion Papers 7591, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Joram Mayshar & Omer Moav & Zvika Neeman, 2011. "Transparency, Appropriability and the Early State," Working Papers 002-11, International School of Economics at TSU, Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia.
  3. Mirco Tonin, 2007. "Minimum Wage and Tax Evasion: Theory and Evidence," IEHAS Discussion Papers 0701, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
  4. Lee, David & Saez, Emmanuel, 2012. "Optimal minimum wage policy in competitive labor markets," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 739-749.
  5. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2012. "Optimal Labor Income Taxation," NBER Working Papers 18521, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Cuff, Katherine & Marceau, Nicolas & Mongrain, Steeve & Roberts, Joanne, 2011. "Optimal Policies with an Informal Sector," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1280-1291.
  7. Cahuc, Pierre & Carcillo, Stéphane, 2011. "The Detaxation of Overtime Hours: Lessons from the French Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 8217, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Blomquist, Sören & Christiansen, Vidar & Micheletto, Luca, 2011. "Public provision of private goods, self-selection and income tax avoidance," Working Paper Series, Center for Fiscal Studies 2011:6, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  9. Anne Brockmeyer, 2013. "The investment effect of taxation: evidence from a corporate tax kink," Working Papers 1317, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
  10. Eduardo Zilberman, 2011. "Audits or Distortions: The Optimal Scheme to Enforce Self-Employment Income Taxes," Textos para discussão 590, Department of Economics PUC-Rio (Brazil).
  11. Almunia, Miguel & Lopez-Rodriguez, David, 2012. "The efficiency cost of tax enforcement: evidence from a panel of spanish firms," MPRA Paper 44153, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  12. Hoseini, M., 2013. "How to Enforce Value-Added Tax? The Role of Inter-Sectoral Linkages," Discussion Paper 2013-036, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  13. Mazhar Waseem, 2013. "Taxes, Informality and Income Shifting: Evidence from a Recent Pakistani Tax Reform," 2013 Papers pwa641, Job Market Papers.
  14. Pickhardt, Michael & Prinz, Aloys, 2014. "Behavioral dynamics of tax evasion – A survey," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 1-19.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15218. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.