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The Micro-geography of Tax Avoidance: Evidence from Littered Cigarette Packs in Chicago

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  • David Merriman

Abstract

The large tax differentials between Chicago and neighboring jurisdictions provide an incentive for cigarette tax avoidance. Data from a random sample of cigarette packs littered in Chicago reveals a startling degree of tax avoidance: three-quarters did not display a Chicago tax stamp. Also, the $2.68 difference between the tax in Chicago and surrounding counties decreases the probability of a local stamp by almost 60 percent, and a one mile increase in distance to the lower-tax state border increases the probability a pack of a local stamp by about one percent. These results are consistent with the predictions of economic theory. (JEL H25, H26, H71)

Suggested Citation

  • David Merriman, 2010. "The Micro-geography of Tax Avoidance: Evidence from Littered Cigarette Packs in Chicago," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 61-84, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:2:y:2010:i:2:p:61-84
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.2.2.61
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Joel Slemrod, 2007. "Cheating Ourselves: The Economics of Tax Evasion," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(1), pages 25-48, Winter.
    2. Jha, Prabhat & Chaloupka, Frank (ed.), 2000. "Tobacco Control in Developing Countries," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780192632463.
    3. Austan Goolsbee & Michael F. Lovenheim & Joel Slemrod, 2010. "Playing with Fire: Cigarettes, Taxes, and Competition from the Internet," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 131-154, February.
    4. Stehr, Mark, 2005. "Cigarette tax avoidance and evasion," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 277-297, March.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue

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