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No Taxation without Information: Deterrence and Self-Enforcement in the Value Added Tax

Listed author(s):
  • Dina Pomeranz

Claims that the VAT facilitates tax enforcement by generating paper trails on transactions between firms contributed to widespread VAT adoption worldwide, but there is surprisingly little evidence. This paper analyzes the role of third-party information for VAT enforcement through two randomized experiments among over 400,000 Chilean firms. Announcing additional monitoring has less impact on transactions that are subject to a paper trail, indicating the paper trail's preventive deterrence effect. This leads to strong enforcement spillovers up the VAT chain. These findings confirm that when taking evasion into account, significant differences emerge between otherwise equivalent forms of taxation. (JEL D83, H25, H26, K34, O17)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 105 (2015)
Issue (Month): 8 (August)
Pages: 2539-2569

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:105:y:2015:i:8:p:2539-69
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20130393
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  1. Paul E. Carrillo & M. Shahe Emran & Anita Rivadeneira, 2011. "Do Cheaters Bunch Together? Profit Taxes, Withholding Rates and Tax Evasion," Working Papers 2011-03, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
  2. Raymond Fisman & Shang-Jin Wei, 2004. "Tax Rates and Tax Evasion: Evidence from "Missing Imports" in China," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(2), pages 471-500, April.
  3. Lars P. Feld & Bruno S. Frey, 2002. "Trust breeds trust: How taxpayers are treated," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 3(2), pages 87-99, 07.
  4. Bird,Richard & Gendron,Pierre-Pascal, 2011. "The VAT in Developing and Transitional Countries," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107401440, August.
  5. Emran, M. Shahe & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 2005. "On selective indirect tax reform in developing countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(4), pages 599-623, April.
  6. Reinikka, Ritva & Svensson, Jakob, 2004. "The power of information : evidence from a newspaper campaign to reduce capture," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3239, The World Bank.
  7. Burgess, Robin & Stern, Nicholas, 1993. "Taxation and Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 762-830, June.
  8. 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.
  9. James Alm & John Deskins & Michael McKee, 2009. "Do Individuals Comply on Income Not Reported by Their Employer?," Public Finance Review, , vol. 37(2), pages 120-141, March.
  10. Guimaraes, Paulo & Portugal, Pedro, 2009. "A Simple Feasible Alternative Procedure to Estimate Models with High-Dimensional Fixed Effects," IZA Discussion Papers 3935, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Áureo de Paula & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2010. "Value-Added Taxes, Chain Effects, and Informality," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 195-221, October.
  12. Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Martin B. Knudsen & Claus Thustrup Kreiner & Søren Pedersen & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "Unwilling or Unable to Cheat? Evidence From a Tax Audit Experiment in Denmark," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(3), pages 651-692, 05.
  13. Wojciech Kopczuk & Joel Slemrod, 2006. "Putting Firms into Optimal Tax Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 130-134, May.
  14. 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.
  15. Ira N. Gang & Arindam Das-Gupta, 1998. "Value Added Tax Evasion, Auditing and Transactions Matching," Departmental Working Papers 199607, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  16. Engström, Per & Hesselius, Patrik, 2007. "The information method - theory and application," Working Paper Series 2007:17, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  17. Johannes Rincke & Christian Traxler, 2011. "Enforcement Spillovers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(4), pages 1224-1234, November.
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