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The Distributional Implications of Income Under‐Reporting in Hungary

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  • Dóra Benedek
  • Orsolya Lelkes

Abstract

The paper estimates the distributional implications of income tax evasion in Hungary based on a random sample of administrative tax records of 230 thousand individuals. Gross incomes in the administrative tax records are compared with those in a nationally representative household budget survey, assuming that tax-evaders are more likely to report their true incomes in an anonymous interview. Our estimates show that the average rate of underreporting is 11%, which conceals large differences between self-employed (who hide the majority of their incomes) and employees. The estimates are likely to be lower bound, due to measurement error in the income survey. These rates are then used in EUROMOD, a tax-benefit microsimulation model to calculate the fiscal and distributional implications of underreporting, while taking account of all major direct taxes and cash benefits and also their interactions. Tax evasion reduces fiscal revenues from personal income taxes by about 19%. While the occurrence of poverty is not affected, income inequality becomes significantly higher (the Gini coefficient increases by 7%), suggesting that high earners tend to evade proportionately more. Finally, we find that tax evasion largely reduces the progressivity of the tax system.
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Suggested Citation

  • Dóra Benedek & Orsolya Lelkes, 2011. "The Distributional Implications of Income Under‐Reporting in Hungary," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 32(4), pages 539-560, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:fistud:v:32:y:2011:i:4:p:539-560
    DOI: j.1475-5890.2011.00150.x
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1475-5890.2011.00150.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Tamar Khitarishvili, 2016. "Two tales of contraction: gender wage gap in Georgia before and after the 2008 crisis," IZA Journal of Labor & Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-28, December.
    2. Francesco Figari & Alari Paulus, 2015. "The Distributional Effects of Taxes and Transfers Under Alternative Income Concepts," Public Finance Review, , vol. 43(3), pages 347-372, May.
    3. European Commission, 2013. "Tax reforms in EU Member States - Tax policy challenges for economic growth and fiscal sustainability – 2013 Report," Taxation Papers 38, Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission.
    4. repec:cbh:journl:v:14:y:2015:i:2:p:5-24 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Vassiliki Koutsogeorgopoulou & Manos Matsaganis & Chrysa Leventi & Jan-David Schneider, 2014. "Fairly Sharing the Social Impact of the Crisis in Greece," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1106, OECD Publishing.
    6. Leventi, Chrysa & Matsaganis, Manos & Flevotomou, Maria, 2013. "Distributional implications of tax evasion and the crisis in Greece," EUROMOD Working Papers EM17/13, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    7. Figari, Francesco & Paulus, Alari & Sutherland, Holly, 2014. "Microsimulation and policy analysis," ISER Working Paper Series 2014-23, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    8. Manos Matsaganis & Chrysa Leventi & Maria Flevotomou, 2012. "The Crisis and Tax Evasion in Greece: What are the Distributional Implications?," CESifo Forum, Ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 13(2), pages 26-32, July.
    9. J. Michael Orszag & Peter R. Orszag, 2015. "Labor’s Share in Hungary," Financial and Economic Review, Magyar Nemzeti Bank (Central Bank of Hungary), vol. 14(2), pages 5-24.
    10. Sara Torregrosa, 2015. "Bypassing progressive taxation: fraud and base erosion in the Spanish income tax (1970-2001)," Working Papers 2015/31, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    11. Tamar Khitarishvili, 2010. "Assessing the Returns to Education in Georgia," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_608, Levy Economics Institute.
    12. repec:kap:jecinq:v:15:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10888-017-9369-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. 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

    JEL classification:

    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • C8 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance

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