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Why Do Underground Reducing Policies Often Fail Their Scope? Some Answers From The Italian Experience


Several European countries, facing a sizeable underground economy, often adopt underground reducing policies mainly based on incentives in the tax-benefit system. Since empirical evidence manifests a substantial failure of such policies, we construct a simple model to indicate the crucial aspects of this failure. To this end we consider a tax-evading firm, allocating work in the official and underground sector, where it is not taxed. With a view to reducing underground employment, the government may decide to launch an amnesty for past social security non-compliance, while providing fiscal incentives for new hiring in order to encourage a process of worker regularization. Allowing for endogenous enforcement, we find that the reputation of policy-makers in combating tax evasion proves crucial in determining the success of such a policy. Copyright 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Economics & Politics.

Volume (Year): 21 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (07)
Pages: 308-318

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Handle: RePEc:bla:ecopol:v:21:y:2009:i:2:p:308-318
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  1. Allingham, Michael G. & Sandmo, Agnar, 1972. "Income tax evasion: a theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3-4), pages 323-338, November.
  2. Eduardo M.R.A. Engel & James R. Hines, Jr., 1999. "Understanding Tax Evasion Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 6903, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Herman B. Leonard & Richard J. Zeckhauser, 1986. "Amnesty, Enforcement and Tax Policy," NBER Working Papers 2096, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Snow, Arthur & Warren, Ronald Jr., 2005. "Tax evasion under random audits with uncertain detection," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 97-100, July.
  5. Franzoni, Luigi Alberto, 2000. "Amnesties, Settlements and Optimal Tax Enforcement," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 67(266), pages 153-76, May.
  6. Franzoni, Luigi Alberto, 1996. "Punishment and Grace: On the Economics of Tax Amnesties," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 51(3), pages 353-68.
  7. Francesco Busato & Bruno Chiarini, 2004. "Market and underground activities in a two-sector dynamic equilibrium model," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 23(4), pages 831-861, May.
  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.
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