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The Social Multiplier of Tax Evasion: Evidence from Italian Audit Data

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  • Roberto Galbiati

    ()

  • Giulio Zanella

    ()

Abstract

We investigate the role of individual interdependencies in tax evasion, arising from congestion on the auditing resources available to local tax authorities. Identification exploits a novel method based on comparison of the variance of individual behavior — concealed income in this case — at different levels of aggregation, within different subpopulations (Graham, 2008). This method allows us to mitigate some of the most severe problems that surround identification of neighbourhood effects, at the cost of identifying restrictions that arise naturally from our model. We employ a unique dataset of tax audits to about 75,000 self-employed individuals in Italy. Surprisingly, this sample is not statistically different from a random sample of taxpayers. We find a social multiplier of about 3, meaning that the equilibrium response to a shock that induces an exogenous variation in mean concealed income — such as tougher or looser tax enforcement — is about three times the initial average response

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Siena in its series Department of Economics University of Siena with number 539.

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Date of creation: Aug 2008
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Handle: RePEc:usi:wpaper:539

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Keywords: social interactions; social multiplier; tax evasion; tax compliance; excess variance;

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References

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  1. Marie-Claire Villeval & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix, 2005. "Tax Evasion and Social Interactions," Working Papers, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure 0410, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
  2. Manski, Charles F, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 531-42, July.
  3. Bryan S. Graham, 2008. "Identifying Social Interactions Through Conditional Variance Restrictions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 76(3), pages 643-660, 05.
  4. Durlauf, Steven N., 2004. "Neighborhood effects," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier, in: J. V. Henderson & J. F. Thisse (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 50, pages 2173-2242 Elsevier.
  5. Friedrich Schneider, 2004. "Shadow Economies around the World: What do we really know?," IAW Discussion Papers, Institut für Angewandte Wirtschaftsforschung (IAW) 16, Institut für Angewandte Wirtschaftsforschung (IAW).
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  7. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Krueger, 2001. "Instrumental Variables and the Search for Identification: From Supply and Demand to Natural Experiments," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 69-85, Fall.
  8. Aureo de Paula & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2006. "The Informal Sector," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001030, UCLA Department of Economics.
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  12. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce I. Sacerdote & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2002. "The Social Multiplier," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1968, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  13. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1995. "Crime and Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 5026, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  15. Joel Slemrod, 2007. "Cheating Ourselves: The Economics of Tax Evasion," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(1), pages 25-48, Winter.
  16. Gordon, James P. P., 1989. "Individual morality and reputation costs as deterrents to tax evasion," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 797-805, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Gerlinde Fellner & Rupert Sausgruber & Christian Traxler, 2009. "Testing Enforcement Strategies in the Field: Legal Threat, Moral Appeal and Social Information," NRN working papers 2009-23, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.

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