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Excise Tax Avoidance: The Case of State Cigarette Taxes

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  • Philip DeCicca
  • Donald S. Kenkel
  • Feng Liu

Abstract

In this paper we contribute new empirical results about consumers’ decisions to avoid cigarette excise taxes, and a new applied welfare economic analysis of optimal excise taxation with tax avoidance. We examine direct measures of consumer excise tax avoidance in novel individual-level data from the 2003 and 2006 - 2007 Tobacco Use Supplements to the U.S. Current Population Survey. We estimate reduced-form models and a structural endogenous switching regression model. In the structural border-crossing equation, the decision to cross the border depends on the difference between the endogenous home- and border-state prices. The reduced-form and structural results show that the probability of cross-border cigarette purchases responds in predictable ways to the economic incentives created by the distance to the border and state tax differentials. To our knowledge, we are also the first study to extend the formula for optimal Pigouvian corrective taxation to incorporate excise tax avoidance. Taking into account tax avoidance implies the optimal tax is substantially below the simple Pigouvian tax that internalizes external costs. In illustrative calculations for 2003, we find that in 20 states the optimal tax that accounts for tax avoidance is at least 20 percent smaller than the simple Pigouvian tax.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15941.

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Date of creation: Apr 2010
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Publication status: published as DeCicca, Philip & Kenkel, Donald & Liu, Feng, 2013. "Excise tax avoidance: The case of state cigarette taxes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1130-1141.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15941

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Cited by:
  1. Johansson, Per & Pekkarinen, Tuomas & Verho, Jouko Kullervo, 2012. "Cross-Border Health and Productivity Effects of Alcohol Policies," IZA Discussion Papers 6389, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. DeCicca, Philip & Kenkel, Donald & Liu, Feng, 2013. "Excise tax avoidance: The case of state cigarette taxes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1130-1141.
  3. Tomas Lichard & Jan Hanousek & Randall K. Filer, 2013. "Measuring the Shadow Economy: Endogenous Switching Regression with Unobserved Separation," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp494, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economic Institute, Prague.
  4. Adel Bosch and Steven F. Koch, 2014. "Using a Natural Experiment to Examine Tobacco Tax Regressivity," Working Papers 434, Economic Research Southern Africa.
  5. Ian Irvine & William Sims, 2012. "A Taxing Dilemma: Assessing the Impact of Tax and Price Changes on the Tobacco Market," C.D. Howe Institute Commentary, C.D. Howe Institute, issue 350, May.
  6. Kevin Callison & Robert Kaestner, 2012. "Do Higher Tobacco Taxes Reduce Adult Smoking? New Evidence of the Effect of Recent Cigarette Tax Increases on Adult Smoking," NBER Working Papers 18326, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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