Understanding Tax Evasion Dynamics
AbstractAmericans who are caught evading taxes in one year may be audited for prior years. While the IRS does not disclose its method of selecting tax returns to audit, it is widely believed that a taxpayer's probability of being audited is an increasing function of current evasion. Under these circumstances, a rational taxpayer's current evasion is a decreasing function of prior evasion, since, if audited and caught for evading this year, the taxpayer may incur penalties for past evasions. The paper presents a model that formalizes this notion, and derives its implications for the responsiveness of individual and aggregate tax evasion to changes in the economic environment. The aggregate behavior of American taxpayers over the 1947 - 1993 period is consistent with the implications of this model. Specifically, aggregate tax evasion is higher in years in which past evasions are small relative to current tax liabilities -- which is the case when incomes or tax rates rise. Furthermore, aggregate audit-related fines and penalties imposed by the IRS are positively related not only to aggregate current-year evasion but also to evasion in prior years. The estimates imply that the average tax evasion rate in the United states over this period is 42% lower than it would be if taxpayers were unconcerned about retrospective audits.
Download InfoIf 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.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6903.
Date of creation: Jan 1999
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Other versions of this item:
- Eduardo Engel & James R. Hines Jr., 1998. "Understanding Tax Evasion Dynamics," Documentos de Trabajo 47, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
- Eduardo Engel & James Hines, 2000. "Understanding Tax Evasion Dynamics," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1117, Econometric Society.
- H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion
- K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-1999-02-08 (All new papers)
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.:
- Rickard, J A & Russell, A M & Howroyd, T D, 1982. "A Tax Evasion Model with Allowance for Retroactive Penalties," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 58(163), pages 379-85, December.
- Reinganum, Jennifer F. & Wilde, Louis L., 1985. "Income tax compliance in a principal-agent framework," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 1-18, February.
- Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1974. "Income tax evasion: A theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 201-202, May.
- Andreoni, James, 1992. "IRS as loan shark tax compliance with borrowing constraints," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 35-46, October.
- Hunter, William J. & Nelson, Michael A., 1996. "An IRS Production Function," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 49(1), pages 105-15, March Cit.
- Christiansen, Vidar, 1980. "Two comments on tax evasion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 389-393, June.
- Stigler, George J, 1970.
"The Optimum Enforcement of Laws,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(3), pages 526-36, May-June.
- Pencavel, John H., 1979. "A note on income tax evasion, labor supply, and nonlinear tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 115-124, August.
- Bernasconi, Michele, 1998. "Tax evasion and orders of risk aversion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 123-134, January.
- Brian Erard & Jonathan Feinstein, 1993.
"Honesty and Evasion in the Tax Compliance Game,"
Carleton Economic Papers
93-06, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised 1994.
- Christiansen, Vidar, 1980. "Two Comments on Tax Evasion," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 389-93, June.
- Srinivasan, T. N., 1973. "Tax evasion: A model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 339-346.
- Crane, Steven E & Nourzad, Farrokh, 1986. "Inflation and Tax Evasion: An Empirical Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(2), pages 217-23, May.
- Dubin, Jeffrey A & Graetz, Michael J & Wilde, Louis L, 1992. "State Income Tax Amnesties: Causes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 1057-70, August.
- Gary S. Becker, 1974.
"Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach,"
in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Dubin, Jeffrey A. & Wilde, Louis L., 1988. "An Empirical Analysis of Federal Income Tax Auditing and Compliance," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 41(1), pages 61-74, March Cit.
- 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.
- James M. Poterba, 1987.
"Tax Evasion and Capital Gains Taxation,"
NBER Working Papers
2119, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Jung, Young H. & Snow, Arthur & Trandel, Gregory A., 1994. "Tax evasion and the size of the underground economy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 391-402, July.
- Cowell, Frank A., 1985. "Tax evasion with labour income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 19-34, February.
- Andreoni, James, 1991. "The desirability of a permanent tax amnesty," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 143-159, July.
- Landsberger, Michael & Meilijson, Isaac, 1982. "Incentive generating state dependent penalty system : The case of income tax evasion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 333-352, December.
- Holger C. Wolf, 1993. "Anti-Tax Revolutions and Symbolic Prosecutions," NBER Working Papers 4337, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Alm, James & Beck, William, 1993. "Tax Amnesties and Compliance in the Long Run: A Time Series Analysis," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 46(1), pages 53-60, March Cit.
- Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz, 1994. " Tax Evasion, Concealment and the Optimal Linear Income Tax," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 96(2), pages 219-39.
- Border, Kim C & Sobel, Joel, 1987. "Samurai Accountant: A Theory of Auditing and Plunder," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(4), pages 525-40, October.
- Andreoni, J. & Erard, B. & Feinstein, J., 1996.
9610r, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
- Mayshar, Joram, 1991. " Taxation with Costly Administration," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 93(1), pages 75-88.
- Slemrod, Joel B, 1985. "An Empirical Test for Tax Evasion," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(2), pages 232-38, May.
- Weiss, Laurence, 1976. "The Desirability of Cheating Incentives and Randomness in the Optimal Income Tax," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(6), pages 1343-52, December.
- Scotchmer, Suzanne, 1987. "Audit Classes and Tax Enforcement Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 229-33, May.
- Frank A. Cowell, 1990. "Cheating the Government: The Economics of Evasion," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262532484, June.
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral 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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.