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Income underreporting among the self-employed: A permanent income approach

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  • Engström, Per
  • Hagen, Johannes

Abstract

The consumption based method to estimate underreporting among self-employed, introduced by Pissarides and Weber (1989), is one of the workhorses in the empirical literature on tax evasion/avoidance. We show that failure to account for transitory income fluctuations in current income may overestimate the degree of underreporting by around 40 percent. Previous studies typically use instrumental variable methods to address the issue. In contrast, our access to registry based longitudinal income measures allows a direct approach based on more permanent income measures. This also allows us to evaluate the performance of a list of instruments widely used in the previous literature. Our analysis shows that capital income is the most suitable instrument in our application, while education and housing related measures do not seem to satisfy the exclusion restrictions.

Suggested Citation

  • Engström, Per & Hagen, Johannes, 2017. "Income underreporting among the self-employed: A permanent income approach," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 92-109.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:92:y:2017:i:c:p:92-109
    DOI: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2016.12.001
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    Cited by:

    1. Aggeborn, Linuz & Öhman, Mattias, 2017. "The Effects of Fluoride in the Drinking Water," Working Paper Series 2017:20, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    2. Odd Erik Nygård & Joel Slemrod & Thor Olav Thoresen, 2016. "Distributional Implications of Joint Tax Evasion," CESifo Working Paper Series 5915, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Income underreporting; Tax evasion; Self-employment; Engel curves; Permanent income;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance

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