IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Using small businesses for individual tax planning: evidence from special tax regimes in Chile


  • Claudio A. Agostini

    () (Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez)

  • Eduardo Engel

    (University of Chile)

  • Andrea Repetto

    (Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez)

  • Damián Vergara

    (University of California at Berkeley)


Abstract Many countries have special tax regimes (STRs) for small businesses. Even though these regimes may reduce compliance costs, they increase the complexity of the tax system and can be used by high-income individuals to avoid taxes. This paper uses administrative data from Chile to analyze whether the use of STRs is associated with strategic tax planning at the individual level. A descriptive analysis of the data finds three stylized facts that, taken together, are consistent with strategic behavior: STRs are used frequently, they are used mainly by high-income taxpayers, and high-income taxpayers are more likely to hold a portfolio of businesses filing taxes under STRs. We rationalize these facts with a simple model of small business creation and tax planning and test the model’s predictions. We find that following a reform that made a particular STR more restrictive, reported individual incomes from businesses filing under that STR decreased between 10 and 15%, while income reported from alternative sources increased. Overall Taxable Income increased between 4 and 7%. This increase is explained by the more restrictive scenario for avoiding taxes through STRs, consistent with individuals using these regimes for tax planning.

Suggested Citation

  • Claudio A. Agostini & Eduardo Engel & Andrea Repetto & Damián Vergara, 2018. "Using small businesses for individual tax planning: evidence from special tax regimes in Chile," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 25(6), pages 1449-1489, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:itaxpf:v:25:y:2018:i:6:d:10.1007_s10797-018-9509-0
    DOI: 10.1007/s10797-018-9509-0

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Abstract
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jorratt De Luis, Michel & Fairfield, Tasha, 2015. "Top Income Shares, Business Profits, and Effective Tax Rates in Contemporary Chile," Working Papers 13744, Institute of Development Studies, International Centre for Tax and Development.
    2. Emmanuel Saez & Stefanie Stantcheva, 2016. "Generalized Social Marginal Welfare Weights for Optimal Tax Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(1), pages 24-45, January.
    3. Elschner, Christina, 2013. "Special tax regimes and the choice of organizational form: Evidence from the European Tonnage Taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 206-216.
    4. Miguel Almunia & David Lopez-Rodriguez, 2018. "Under the Radar: The Effects of Monitoring Firms on Tax Compliance," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 1-38, February.
    5. Ravi Kanbur & Michael Keen, 2014. "Thresholds, informality, and partitions of compliance," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 21(4), pages 536-559, August.
    6. Joshua D. Angrist & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 2009. "Mostly Harmless Econometrics: An Empiricist's Companion," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 8769.
    7. Onji, Kazuki, 2009. "The response of firms to eligibility thresholds: Evidence from the Japanese value-added tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(5-6), pages 766-775, June.
    8. Joel Slemrod, 2001. "A General Model of the Behavioral Response to Taxation," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 8(2), pages 119-128, March.
    9. Joel Slemrod & Jon Bakija, 2004. "Taxing Ourselves, 3rd Edition: A Citizen's Guide to the Debate over Taxes," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 3, volume 1, number 026269302x.
    10. Claudio Agostini, 2013. "Una Reforma Eficiente y Equitativa del Impuesto al Ingreso en Chile," Working Papers wp_028, Adolfo Ibáñez University, School of Government.
    11. Slemrod, Joel & Collins, Brett & Hoopes, Jeffrey L. & Reck, Daniel & Sebastiani, Michael, 2017. "Does credit-card information reporting improve small-business tax compliance?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 1-19.
    12. Emmanuel Saez & Joel Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2012. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(1), pages 3-50, March.
    13. Imbens,Guido W. & Rubin,Donald B., 2015. "Causal Inference for Statistics, Social, and Biomedical Sciences," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521885881.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Special tax regimes; Small businesses; Individual tax planning; Tax avoidance; Income sheltering; Behavioral responses;

    JEL classification:

    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:itaxpf:v:25:y:2018:i:6:d:10.1007_s10797-018-9509-0. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Springer Nature Abstracting and Indexing). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.