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The Optimality of Punishing Only the Innocent: The Case of Tax Evasion

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  • Robin Boadway
  • Motohiro Sato

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

  • Robin Boadway & Motohiro Sato, 2000. "The Optimality of Punishing Only the Innocent: The Case of Tax Evasion," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 7(6), pages 641-664, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:itaxpf:v:7:y:2000:i:6:p:641-664
    DOI: 10.1023/A:1008777309680
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    Cited by:

    1. Jordi Caballé & Judith Panadés, 2005. "Cost Uncertainty and Taxpayer Compliance," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 12(3), pages 239-263, May.
    2. Agnar Sandmo, 2012. "An evasive topic: theorizing about the hidden economy," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 19(1), pages 5-24, February.
    3. Ralph-C. Bayer, 2006. "Finding Out Who The Crooks Are — Tax Evasion With Sequential Auditing," The Singapore Economic Review (SER), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 51(02), pages 195-227.
    4. Stefan Dodds, 2002. "Privacy And Endogenous Monitoring Choice When Private Information Is A Public Good," Working Paper 1010, Economics Department, Queen's University.
    5. repec:zbw:rwimat:037 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Hashimzade, Nigar & Huang, Zhanyi & Myles, Gareth D., 2010. "Tax fraud by firms and optimal auditing," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 10-17, March.
    7. Cécile Bazart & Michael Pickhardt, 2009. "Fighting Income Tax Evasion with Positive Rewards: Experimental Evidence," Working Papers 09-01, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised Jun 2009.
    8. Laszlo Goerke, 2008. "Tax Overpayments, Tax Evasion, and Book‐Tax Differences," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 10(4), pages 643-671, August.
    9. Ugo Troiano, 2017. "Intergovernmental Cooperation and Tax Enforcement," NBER Working Papers 24153, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Wolfram F. Richter, 2007. "Geplante Steuerhinterziehung und ihre effiziente Bestrafung," RWI Materialien, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, pages 31, 08.
    11. Kai A. Konrad & Salmai Qari, 2012. "The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel? Patriotism and Tax Compliance," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 79(315), pages 516-533, July.
    12. Cowell, Frank, 2003. "Sticks and carrots," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2046, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    13. Robin Boadway, 2011. "Viewpoint: Innovations in the theory and practice of redistribution policy," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 44(4), pages 1138-1183, November.
    14. Pickhardt, Michael & Prinz, Aloys, 2014. "Behavioral dynamics of tax evasion – A survey," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 1-19.
    15. Wolfram F. Richter & Robin W. Boadway, 2005. "Trading Off Tax Distortion and Tax Evasion," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 7(3), pages 361-381, August.
    16. Richter, Wolfram F., 2007. "Geplante Steuerhinterziehung und ihre effiziente Bestrafung," RWI Materialien 37, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung.
    17. Silvia Platoni & Francesco Timpano, 2013. "Redistribution and Tax Evasion: an Asymmetric Information Approach," DISCE - Quaderni del Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali dises1394, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
    18. Philip Curry & Steeve Mongrain, "undated". "What You Don't See Can't Hurt You: An Economic Analysis of," American Law & Economics Association Annual Meetings 1062, American Law & Economics Association.

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