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Institutions, Corruption and Tax Evasion in the Unofficial Economy

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  • Douglas Hibbs

    (Göteborg University)

  • Violeta Piculescu

    (Göteborg University)

Abstract

In this paper we propose a model of how institutional benefits, taxation and government regulations affect the productive activity of private enterprises. We consider an environment in which public officials enforcing tax and regulatory obligations are potentially corruptible, and markets for corruption may therefore arise that give firms the option of producing unofficially and evading taxes and regulations. By contrast to some previous studies that view corruption and bribery as forces driving firms out of official production into the underground economy, our model features the idea that the `grabbing hands' of corrupt bureaucrats may alternatively serve as `helping hands' allowing firms to exploit profitable opportunities in the unofficial sector. And contrary to a traditional view maintaining that high tax rates are intrinsically a major cause of large shadow economies, our model implies that incentives to evade taxation and produce underground depend on statutory tax rates relative to firm-specific thresholds of tax toleration. Tax toleration is determined, among other things, by firm-specific institutional benefits available to official producers and the costs of corruption required to produce unofficially. Some core predictions of the model concerning the determinants of tax toleration and the relative size of unofficial activity and tax evasion receive broad support from empirical analyses based on firm-level data from the World Business Environment Surveys sponsored by the World Bank.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Public Economics with number 0508003.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: 05 Aug 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwppe:0508003

Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 30
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Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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Keywords: institutions corruption tax evasion unofficial economy underground economy;

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References

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  1. Friedrich Schneider & Robert Klinglmair, 2004. "Shadow Economies around the World: What Do We Know?," CESifo Working Paper Series 1167, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Loayza, Norman V., 1996. "The economics of the informal sector: a simple model and some empirical evidence from Latin America," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 129-162, December.
  3. Svensson, Jakob, 2002. "Who Must Pay Bribes and How Much? Evidence from a cross-section of firms," Seminar Papers 713, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  4. Simon Johnson & John McMillan, 2002. "Courts and Relational Contracts," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(1), pages 221-277, April.
  5. Jay Pil Choi & Marcel Thum, 2002. "Corruption and the Shadow Economy," CESifo Working Paper Series 633, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Jain, Arvind K, 2001. " Corruption: A Review," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(1), pages 71-121, February.
  7. Johnson, Simon & Kaufmann, Daniel & McMillan, John & Woodruff, Christopher, 2000. "Why do firms hide? Bribes and unofficial activity after communism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 495-520, June.
  8. Mookherjee, Dilip & Png, I P L, 1995. "Corruptible Law Enforcers: How Should They Be Compensated?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(428), pages 145-59, January.
  9. Pranab Bardhan, 1997. "Corruption and Development: A Review of Issues," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(3), pages 1320-1346, September.
  10. Johnson, Simon & Kaufmann, Daniel & Zoido-Lobaton, Pablo, 1998. "Regulatory Discretion and the Unofficial Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 387-92, May.
  11. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. Bame-Aldred, Charles W. & Cullen, John B. & Martin, Kelly D. & Parboteeah, K. Praveen, 2013. "National culture and firm-level tax evasion," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 390-396.
  2. Clara Delavallade, 2012. "What Drives Corruption? Evidence from North African Firms," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 21(4), pages 499-547, August.
  3. Francisco Azpitarte, 2011. "Can corruption constrain the size of governments?," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 1-14, August.
  4. Hazans, Mihails, 2011. "What Explains Prevalence of Informal Employment in European Countries: The Role of Labor Institutions, Governance, Immigrants, and Growth," IZA Discussion Papers 5872, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Axel Dreher & Friedrich Schneider, 2010. "Corruption and the shadow economy: an empirical analysis," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 144(1), pages 215-238, July.
  6. Jellal, Mohamed & Bouzahzah, Mohamed, 2012. "Rentes et corruption au maroc théorie et evidence
    [Morocco rents and corruption theory and evidence]
    ," MPRA Paper 38750, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Andreas Buehn & Friedrich Schneider, 2012. "Corruption and the shadow economy: like oil and vinegar, like water and fire?," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 172-194, February.

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