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Excise tax avoidance: The case of state cigarette taxes

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  • DeCicca, Philip
  • Kenkel, Donald
  • Liu, Feng

Abstract

We conduct an applied welfare economics analysis of cigarette tax avoidance. We develop an extension of the standard formula for the optimal Pigouvian corrective tax to incorporate the possibility that consumers avoid the tax by making purchases in nearby lower tax jurisdictions. To provide a key parameter for our formula, we estimate a structural endogenous switching regression model of border-crossing and cigarette prices. In illustrative calculations, we find that for many states, after taking into account tax avoidance the optimal tax is at least 20% smaller than the standard Pigouvian tax that simply internalizes external costs. Our empirical estimate that tax avoidance strongly responds to the price differential is the main reason for this result. We also use our results to examine the benefits of replacing avoidable state excise taxes with a harder-to-avoid federal excise tax on cigarettes.

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  • DeCicca, Philip & Kenkel, Donald & Liu, Feng, 2013. "Excise tax avoidance: The case of state cigarette taxes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1130-1141.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:32:y:2013:i:6:p:1130-1141
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2013.08.005
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    Cited by:

    1. Kevin Callison & Robert Kaestner, 2014. "Do Higher Tobacco Taxes Reduce Adult Smoking? New Evidence Of The Effect Of Recent Cigarette Tax Increases On Adult Smoking," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(1), pages 155-172, January.
    2. Philip DeCicca & Donald Kenkel & Feng Liu, 2013. "Who Pays Cigarette Taxes? The Impact of Consumer Price Search," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(2), pages 516-529, May.
    3. Ian Irvine & William Sims, 2012. "A Taxing Dilemma: Assessing the Impact of Tax and Price Changes on the Tobacco Market," C.D. Howe Institute Commentary, C.D. Howe Institute, issue 350, May.
    4. Pesko, Michael F. & Baum, Christopher F., 2016. "The self-medication hypothesis: Evidence from terrorism and cigarette accessibility," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 22(C), pages 94-102.
    5. Montfort Mlachila & Edgardo Ruggiero & David Corvino, 2016. "Unintended Consequences; Spillovers from Nigeria’s Fuel Pricing Policies to Its Neighbor," IMF Working Papers 16/17, International Monetary Fund.
    6. Wang, Xiaojin & Zheng, Yuqing & Reed, Michael & Zhen, Chen, 2015. "Cigarette Tax Pass-Through by Product Characteristics: Evidence from Nielsen ScanTrack Data," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 205375, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Western Agricultural Economics Association.
    7. Philip DeCicca & Donald Kenkel & Feng Liu, 2015. "Reservation Prices: An Economic Analysis of Cigarette Purchases on Indian Reservations," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 68(1), pages 93-118, March.
    8. repec:eee:socmed:v:196:y:2018:i:c:p:19-28 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Bishop, James, 2015. "Interacting effects of state cigarette taxes on smoking participation," MPRA Paper 66609, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Shu Wang & David Merriman & Frank J. Chaloupka, 2016. "Relative Tax Rates, Proximity and Cigarette Tax Noncompliance: Evidence from a National Sample of Littered Cigarette Packs," NBER Working Papers 22577, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Adel Bosch and Steven F. Koch, 2014. "Using a Natural Experiment to Examine Tobacco Tax Regressivity," Working Papers 434, Economic Research Southern Africa.
    12. Lichard, Tomáš & Hanousek, Jan & Filer, Randall K., 2012. "Measuring the Shadow Economy: Endogenous Switching Regression with Unobserved Separation," IZA Discussion Papers 6901, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. DeCicca, Philip & Kenkel, Donald & Liu, Feng, 2013. "Excise tax avoidance: The case of state cigarette taxes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1130-1141.
    14. Rozema, Kyle & Ziebarth, Nicolas R., 2015. "Behavioral Responses to Taxation: Cigarette Taxes and Food Stamp Take-Up," IZA Discussion Papers 8907, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Johansson, Per & Pekkarinen, Tuomas & Verho, Jouko, 2014. "Cross-border health and productivity effects of alcohol policies," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 125-136.
    16. Rajeev Goel & Michael Nelson, 2012. "Cigarette demand and effectiveness of U.S. smoking control policies: state-level evidence for more than half a century," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 1079-1095, June.
    17. repec:eee:respol:v:47:y:2018:i:5:p:854-871 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Christian Ben Lakhdar & Nicolas Gérard Vaillant & François-Charles Wolff, 2016. "Does smoke cross the border? Cigarette tax avoidance in France," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 17(9), pages 1073-1089, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cigarette taxes; Smoking; Border-crossing;

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue

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