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Value-Added Taxes, Chain Effects, and Informality

  • �ureo de Paula
  • Jose A. Scheinkman

We present an equilibrium model of tax avoidance and test its implications using a survey of firms in Brazil. In the model, the credit method used to collect value-added tax (VAT) creates informality chains-clients or suppliers of informal firms are more likely to be informal. An increase in enforcement in a production stage increases formality downstream and upstream. Various empirical measures of formality of suppliers and buyers, and of enforcement downstream and upstream, are positively correlated with formality. When the VAT is applied in a single stage of production at a rate estimated by the authorities, these chain effects disappear. (JEL H25, H26, L14, L21, O14, O17)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics.

Volume (Year): 2 (2010)
Issue (Month): 4 (October)
Pages: 195-221

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmac:v:2:y:2010:i:4:p:195-221
Note: DOI: 10.1257/mac.2.4.195
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  1. Rauch, James E., 1991. "Modelling the informal sector formally," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 33-47, January.
  2. Rivers, Douglas & Vuong, Quang H., 1988. "Limited information estimators and exogeneity tests for simultaneous probit models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 347-366, November.
  3. Almeida, Rita K. & Carneiro, Pedro, 2005. "Enforcement of Regulation, Informal Labor and Firm Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 1759, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Aureo de Paula & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2006. "The Informal Sector," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001030, UCLA Department of Economics.
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  6. Stephane Straub, 2004. "Informal Sector: The Credit Market Channel," ESE Discussion Papers 101, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  7. Friedrich Schneider & Dominik Enste, 1999. "Shadow Economies Around the World - Size, Causes, and Consequences," CESifo Working Paper Series 196, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. 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.
  9. Fortin, Bernard & Marceau, Nicolas & Savard, Luc, 1997. "Taxation, wage controls and the informal sector," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 293-312, November.
  10. Maloney, William F. & Nunez, Jairo & Cunningham, Wendy & Fiess, Norbert & Montenegro, Claudio & Murrugarra, Edmundo & Santamaria,Mauricio & Sepulveda, Claudia, 2001. "Measuring the impact of minimum wages : evidence from Latin America," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2597, The World Bank.
  11. Gabriela Inchauste & Mark Gradstein & Era Dabla-Norris, 2005. "What Causes Firms to Hide Output? the Determinants of Informality," IMF Working Papers 05/160, International Monetary Fund.
  12. Fajnzylber, Pablo & Maloney, William F. & Montes-Rojas, Gabriel V., 2009. "Does Formality Improve Micro-Firm Performance? Quasi-Experimental Evidence from the Brazilian SIMPLES Program," IZA Discussion Papers 4531, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. 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.
  14. James Heckman & Carmen Pages, 2003. "Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean," NBER Working Papers 10129, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. James J. Heckman, 1977. "Dummy Endogenous Variables in a Simultaneous Equation System," NBER Working Papers 0177, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521602679 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Almeida, Rita & Carneiro, Pedro, 2005. "Enforcement of labor regulation, informal labor, and firm performance," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3756, The World Bank.
  18. Simon Johnson & Daniel Kaufman & Andrei Shleifer, 1997. "The Unofficial Economy in Transition," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(2), pages 159-240.
  19. Friedman, Eric & Johnson, Simon & Kaufmann, Daniel & Zoido-Lobaton, Pablo, 2000. "Dodging the grabbing hand: the determinants of unofficial activity in 69 countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 459-493, June.
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