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

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.

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Article provided by Camera di Commercio di Genova in its journal Economia Internazionale / International Economics.

Volume (Year): 62 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 145-162

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Handle: RePEc:ris:ecoint:0007
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  1. Caballe, Jordi & Panades, Judith, 1997. "Tax Evasion and Economic Growth," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 52(3-4), pages 318-40.
  2. Richard J. Cebula, 2001. "Impact of income-detection technology and other factors on aggregate income tax evasion:the case of the United States," BNL Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 54(219), pages 401-415.
  3. 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 363-73, August.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Attiat Ott & Sheila Vegari, 2003. "Tax reform: Chasing the elusive dream," Atlantic Economic Journal, International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 31(3), pages 266-282, September.
  7. Falkinger, Josef, 1988. "Tax Evasion and Equity: A Theoretical Analysis," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 43(3), pages 388-95.
  8. 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.
  9. Edgar L. Feige, 2005. "Overseas Holdings Of U.S.Currency And The Underground Economy," Macroeconomics 0501022, EconWPA.
  10. Edgar L. Feige, 2005. "The Underground Economy And The Currency Enigma," Macroeconomics 0502004, EconWPA.
  11. 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 236-51.
  12. Alm, James & Jackson, Betty & McKee, Michael, 1992. "Institutional Uncertainty and Taxpayer Compliance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 1018-26, September.
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