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Auditing with Signals


  • Macho-Stadler, Ines
  • Perez-Castrillo, J David


This paper is a first step in analysing the use of statistical information about taxpayers' incomes by tax audit authorities. In a very simple model, we consider the design of the audit strategy when the tax authority can commit to it and has free access to a signal correlated with the taxpayer's true income. We discuss the optimal enforcement policy and compare it with the optimal one when only self-reported income is considered. Our main result postulates that the well-known regressive bias of revenue-maximizing audit rules may be reversed into a progressive one when signals are used. Copyright 2002 by The London School of Economics and Political Science

Suggested Citation

  • Macho-Stadler, Ines & Perez-Castrillo, J David, 2002. "Auditing with Signals," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 69(273), pages 1-20, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:econom:v:69:y:2002:i:273:p:1-20

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sanchez, Isabel & Sobel, Joel, 1993. "Hierarchical design and enforcement of income tax policies," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 345-369, March.
    2. Cremer, H. & Marchand, M. & Pestieau, P., 1990. "Evading, auditing and taxing : The equity-compliance tradeoff," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 67-92, October.
    3. Eduardo Engel & James R. Hines Jr., 1998. "Understanding Tax Evasion Dynamics," Documentos de Trabajo 47, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
    4. Frank A. Cowell, 1990. "Cheating the Government: The Economics of Evasion," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262532484, January.
    5. James Andreoni & Brian Erard & Jonathan Feinstein, 1998. "Tax Compliance," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 818-860, June.
    6. Alm, James & Bahl, Roy & Murray, Matthew N., 1993. "Audit selection and income tax underreporting in the tax compliance game," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 1-33, October.
    7. Parkash Chander & Louis L. Wilde, 1998. "A General Characterization of Optimal Income Tax Enforcement," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(1), pages 165-183.
    8. Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Mark Rider, 2003. "Multiple Modes of Tax Evasion: Theory and Evidence from the TCMP," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0306, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
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    Cited by:

    1. Macho-Stadler, Ines & Perez-Castrillo, David, 2006. "Optimal enforcement policy and firms' emissions and compliance with environmental taxes," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 110-131, January.
    2. Ines Macho-Stadler & David Pérez-Castrillo, 2004. "Optimal Enforcement Policy and Firms’ Emissions and Compliance with Environmental Taxes," CESifo Working Paper Series 1193, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Jörg Schiller, 2006. "The Impact of Insurance Fraud Detection Systems," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 73(3), pages 421-438.
    4. Eduardo Zilberman, 2016. "Audits or Distortions: The Optimal Scheme to Enforce Self-Employment Income Taxes," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 18(4), pages 511-544, August.
    5. Anna Maria Menichini & Peter Simmons, 2014. "Sorting the good guys from bad: on the optimal audit structure with ex-ante information acquisition," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 57(2), pages 339-376, October.
    6. Roberto José Arias, 2004. "Reglas de selección para la fiscalización de Impuestos a las Ventas," Revista de Economía y Estadística, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Instituto de Economía y Finanzas, vol. 0(2), pages 29-62, July.
    7. Inés Macho Stadler & David Perez-Castrillo, 2005. "Optimal inspection policy and income-tax compliance," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 173(2), pages 9-45, June.
    8. Philipp Meyer-Brauns, 2014. "Optimal Auditing with Heterogeneous Audit Perceptions," Working Papers tax-mpg-rps-2014-06, Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law


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