The Optimality of Punishing Only the Innocent: The Case of Tax Evasion
We study the effectson tax enforcement and tax policy of unintentional complianceerrors by taxpayers and administrative errors by tax auditors.The government can impose both penalties for misreporting andrewards for honest reporting. Maximal sanctions will not be appliedbecause errors are possible, so evasion cannot be eliminatedcostlessly. Under optimal policy intentional evasion can be deterred,but innocent tax evaders must be penalized whether they haveunintentionally evaded or have been mistakenly convicted. Thisdeters intentional evasion, but limits redistribution. Withoutrewards for honest reporting, the revelation principle need notapply, so intentional evasion can occur. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000
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