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Optimal taxes on wealth and consumption in the presence of tax evasion

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  • Johann Brunner

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  • Paul Eckerstorfer
  • Susanne Pech

Abstract

This article incorporates tax evasion into an optimum taxation framework with individuals differing in earning abilities and initial wealth. We find that despite the possibility of its evasion a tax on initial wealth should supplement the optimal nonlinear income tax, given a positive correlation between initial wealth and earning abilities. Further, even if income and initial wealth are taxed optimally, it is still desirable to levy a tax on commodities, though it can be evaded as well. Thus, our result provides a rationale for a comprehensive tax system. Optimal tax rates on commodities differ in general, however for the special case of a uniform evasion technology equal rates are optimal if preferences are homothetic and weakly separable. Copyright Springer-Verlag Wien 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Johann Brunner & Paul Eckerstorfer & Susanne Pech, 2013. "Optimal taxes on wealth and consumption in the presence of tax evasion," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 110(2), pages 107-124, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jeczfn:v:110:y:2013:i:2:p:107-124
    DOI: 10.1007/s00712-012-0314-4
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Raj Chetty, 2009. "Is the Taxable Income Elasticity Sufficient to Calculate Deadweight Loss? The Implications of Evasion and Avoidance," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 31-52, August.
    2. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 2001. "Direct versus Indirect Taxation: The Design of the Tax Structure Revisted," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(3), pages 781-799, August.
    3. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 2003. "Capital income taxation when inherited wealth is not observable," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(11), pages 2475-2490, October.
    4. Anthony B. Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "Top Incomes in the Long Run of History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(1), pages 3-71, March.
    5. Boadway, Robin & Marchand, Maurice & Pestieau, Pierre, 2000. " Redistribution with Unobservable Bequests: A Case for Taxing Capital Income," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 102(2), pages 253-267, June.
    6. Johann K. Brunner & Susanne Pech, 2008. "Optimum taxation of inheritances," Economics working papers 2008-06, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    7. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz, 1993. "Tax evasion and optimal commodity taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 261-275, February.
    8. Pierre Pestieau & Uri M. Possen & Steven M. Slutsky, 2004. "Jointly Optimal Taxes and Enforcement Policies in Response to Tax Evasion," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 6(2), pages 337-374, May.
    9. Allingham, Michael G. & Sandmo, Agnar, 1972. "Income tax evasion: a theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3-4), pages 323-338, November.
    10. Brunner Johann K. & Pech Susanne, 2012. "Optimal Taxation of Wealth Transfers When Bequests are Motivated by Joy of Giving," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-22, March.
    11. Usher, Dan, 1986. "Tax Evasion and the Marginal Cost of Public Funds," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 24(4), pages 563-586, October.
    12. James Andreoni & Brian Erard & Jonathan Feinstein, 1998. "Tax Compliance," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 818-860, June.
    13. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1976. "The design of tax structure: Direct versus indirect taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 55-75.
    14. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz, 1996. "Tax evasion and the optimum general income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 235-249, May.
    15. Keen, Michael & Smith, Stephen, 2006. "VAT Fraud and Evasion: What Do We Know and What Can Be Done?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 59(4), pages 861-887, December.
    16. Kolm, Serge-Christophe, 1973. "A note on optimum tax evasion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 265-270, July.
    17. Deaton, Angus, 1979. "Optimally uniform commodity taxes," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 357-361.
    18. Clotfelter, Charles T, 1983. "Tax Evasion and Tax Rates: An Analysis of Individual Returns," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(3), pages 363-373, August.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Brunner Johann K. & Pech Susanne, 2012. "Optimal Taxation of Wealth Transfers When Bequests are Motivated by Joy of Giving," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-22, March.
    2. Brunner Johann K., 2014. "Die Erbschaftsteuer – Bestandteil eines optimalen Steuersystems?," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 15(3), pages 199-218, October.
    3. Johann K. Brunner, 2010. "Die Erbschaftssteuer im Modell der optimalen Besteuerung," Economics working papers 2010-14, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    4. Johann K. Brunner & Susanne Pech, 2012. "Optimal Taxation of Bequests in a Model with Initial Wealth," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(4), pages 1368-1392, December.
    5. Maurizio Caserta & Francesco Reito, 2015. "Minimum taxation as a luxury good," Economia Politica: Journal of Analytical and Institutional Economics, Springer;Fondazione Edison, vol. 32(3), pages 301-310, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Optimal taxation; Tax evasion; Initial wealth; D82; H21; H24; H26;

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance

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