IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Delegation as Commitment: The Case of Income Tax Audits


  • Nahum D. Melumad
  • Dilip Mookherjee


In this article we study the value of delegating authority over income tax audit policy, arising from the incompleteness of contracts. Consider a utilitarian government whose ability to commit is limited to aggregate dimensions of its audit policy, as publicly verifiable information about detailed allocations of audit budgets is not available. We show that the welfare level associated with the full-commitment solution can be attained by delegating authority over audit policy to a manager. The latter is offered a simple incentive scheme based only on the aggregate variables which are publicly observable. In contrast, if the government retains authority, direct commitment to these same variables does not allow the full-commitment welfare level to be achieved. Thus, despite sharing a common informational basis, delegation may perform better than centralized arrangements in the presence of incomplete contracts.

Suggested Citation

  • Nahum D. Melumad & Dilip Mookherjee, 1989. "Delegation as Commitment: The Case of Income Tax Audits," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 20(2), pages 139-163, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:rje:randje:v:20:y:1989:i:summer:p:139-163

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: full text
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to JSTOR subscribers. See for details.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:rje:randje:v:20:y:1989:i:summer:p:139-163. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.