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The Tax Reform Act of 1986: An Assessment in Terms of Tax Compliance Behavior

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Abstract

The Tax Reform Act of 1986 (TRA) has sometimes been portrayed as a genuine effort to introduce fairness, simplicity, and economic growth considerations into the Internal Revenue Code of the U.S. Although regarding the TRA as far from adequate, the late Richard Musgrave did in fact regard this statute as yielding many significant changes that improved the equity and efficiency of the process of federal income taxation. The present study investigates empirically whether the TRA was so well received by taxpayers as to increase (at least in theory) the degree of federal personal income tax compliance. Although the estimates imply that this may have initially been the case, a more in-depth analysis reveals that the TRA actually exercised a statistically zero net impact on the aggregate degree of personal income tax compliance over the longer run, implying that the TRA merely required a sufficient amount of time for tax evaders to learn the new law so that they could ultimately resume their tax-evasion ways.

Suggested Citation

  • Cebula, Richard J. & Coombs, Christopher & Yang, Bill Z., 2009. "The Tax Reform Act of 1986: An Assessment in Terms of Tax Compliance Behavior," Economia Internazionale / International Economics, Camera di Commercio Industria Artigianato Agricoltura di Genova, vol. 62(2), pages 145-162.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:ecoint:0007
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Joel Slemrod, 1992. "Did the Tax Reform Act of 1986 Simplify Tax Matters?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 45-57, Winter.
    2. Klepper, Steven & Nagin, Daniel & Spurr, Stephen, 1991. "Tax Rates, Tax Compliance, and the Reporting of Long-Term Capital Gains," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 46(2), pages 236-251.
    3. Richard J. Cebula, 2001. "Impact of income-detection technology and other factors on aggregate income tax evasion:the case of the United States," Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 54(219), pages 401-415.
    4. Cebula, Richard & Saltz, Ira, 2000. "An Empirical Note on Tax Auditing and the Size of the Underground Economy in the United States, 1962-1980," MPRA Paper 50559, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Attiat Ott & Sheila Vegari, 2003. "Tax reform: Chasing the elusive dream," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 31(3), pages 266-282, September.
    6. Edgar L. Feige, 2005. "Overseas Holdings Of U.S.Currency And The Underground Economy," Macroeconomics 0501022, EconWPA.
    7. Alm, James & Jackson, Betty & McKee, Michael, 1992. "Institutional Uncertainty and Taxpayer Compliance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 1018-1026, September.
    8. Falkinger, Josef, 1988. "Tax Evasion and Equity: A Theoretical Analysis," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 43(3), pages 388-395.
    9. Feige, Edgar L, 1994. "The Underground Economy and the Currency Enigma," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 49(Supplemen), pages 119-136.
    10. Richard J. Cebula, 2004. "Income Tax Evasion Revisited: The Impact of Interest Rate Yields on Tax-Free Municipal Bonds," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 71(2), pages 418-423, October.
    11. Caballe, Jordi & Panades, Judith, 1997. "Tax Evasion and Economic Growth," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 52(3-4), pages 318-340.
    12. 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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    Cited by:

    1. Cebula, Richard, 2010. "An Empirical Analysis of Determinants of Recent Federal Personal Income Tax Evasion in the U.S," MPRA Paper 53205, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Richard J. Cebula, 2014. "The underground economy in the U.S.A.: preliminary new evidence on the impact of income tax rates (and other factors) on aggregate tax evasion 1975-2008," PSL Quarterly Review, Economia civile, vol. 67(271), pages 451-481.
    3. Richard J. Cebula, 2013. "Budget Deficits, Economic Freedom, and Economic Growth in OECD Nations: P2SLS Fixed-Effects Estimates, 2003–2008," Journal of Private Enterprise, The Association of Private Enterprise Education, vol. 28(Spring 20), pages 75-96.
    4. Feige, Edgar L. & Cebula, Richard, 2011. "America’s unreported economy: measuring the size, growth and determinants of income tax evasion in the U.S," MPRA Paper 34781, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Cebula, Richard & Boylan, Robert & Foley, Maggie & Isard, Douglass, 2014. "Implications of Recent Federal Personal Income Tax Increases for Income Tax Evasion, Tax Revenues, and Budget Deficits," MPRA Paper 55308, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Richard J. Cebula, 2014. "Where Has The Currency Gone? And Why? The Underground Economy And Personal Income Tax Evasion In The U.S., 1970-2008," Review of Economic Analysis, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis, vol. 6(1), pages 36-52, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Tax Reform; Tax Reform Act; Income Tax Evasion;

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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