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Relative Tax Rates, Proximity, and Cigarette Tax Noncompliance: Evidence from a National Sample of Littered Cigarette Packs

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  • Shu Wang
  • David Merriman
  • Frank Chaloupka

Abstract

We analyze data about cigarette tax compliance from the first US-based national scale littered cigarette packs collection. We code each pack based on whether an appropriate tax had been paid at the location where it was found. Noncompliance across our 132 sample communities ranges from 0 percent to 100 percent with an appropriately weighted mean of 21 percent. We provide evidence that noncompliance is due to both cross-border shopping and cigarette trafficking. Ordinary least squares and binomial logit regressions demonstrate that the financial incentive for noncompliance is the most important explanatory variable and has a statistically and quantitatively significant impact on noncompliance. We find mixed evidence about the extent to which tax avoidance varies with distance to lower-tax borders. Our simulations show that, even after accounting for increased noncompliance, virtually all areas in our study would experience increases in tax revenue if they increased cigarette tax rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Shu Wang & David Merriman & Frank Chaloupka, 2019. "Relative Tax Rates, Proximity, and Cigarette Tax Noncompliance: Evidence from a National Sample of Littered Cigarette Packs," Public Finance Review, , vol. 47(2), pages 276-311, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:pubfin:v:47:y:2019:i:2:p:276-311
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Matthew Harding & Ephraim Leibtag & Michael F. Lovenheim, 2012. "The Heterogeneous Geographic and Socioeconomic Incidence of Cigarette Taxes: Evidence from Nielsen Homescan Data," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 169-198, November.
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    4. Michael F. Pesko & John A. Tauras & Jidong Huang & Frank J. Chaloupka, IV, 2016. "The Influence of Geography and Measurement in Estimating Cigarette Price Responsiveness," NBER Working Papers 22296, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    tax avoidance; tax evasion; cigarette tax;

    JEL classification:

    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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