IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/ucp/jpolec/v116y2008i4p633-666.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Measuring Illegal Activity and the Effects of Regulatory Innovation: Tax Evasion and the Dyeing of Untaxed Diesel

Author

Listed:
  • Justin Marion
  • Erich Muehlegger

Abstract

This article examines tax evasion in the diesel fuel market. Diesel fuel used for on-road purposes is taxed, while other uses are untaxed, creating an incentive for firms and individuals to evade on-road diesel taxes by purchasing untaxed diesel fuel and then using it for on-road use. We examine the effects of a federal regulatory innovation in October 1993, the addition of red dye to untaxed diesel fuel at the point of distribution, which significantly lowered the cost of regulatory enforcement. We find that sales of diesel fuel rose 26 percent following the regulatory change, while sales of heating oil, which is an untaxed perfect substitute, fell by a similar amount. The effect on sales was higher in states with higher tax rates and in states likely to have higher audit costs. We also find evidence that heating oil sales were less responsive to demand factors, such as temperature, prior to the dye program, indicating that a significant fraction of predye sales was illegitimate. Furthermore, we find a pattern of price and tax elasticities consistent with innovation in new evasion techniques subsequent to the regulatory change. Finally, we estimate that the elasticity of tax revenues with respect to the tax rate was 0.60 prior to the dye program yet would have been 0.85 in the absence of evasion. (c) 2008 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

Suggested Citation

  • Justin Marion & Erich Muehlegger, 2008. "Measuring Illegal Activity and the Effects of Regulatory Innovation: Tax Evasion and the Dyeing of Untaxed Diesel," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(4), pages 633-666, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:116:y:2008:i:4:p:633-666
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/591805
    File Function: link to full text
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

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

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jonathan S. Feinstein, 1991. "An Econometric Analysis of Income Tax Evasion and its Detection," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(1), pages 14-35, Spring.
    2. Severin Borenstein & Andrea Shepard, 2002. "Sticky Prices, Inventories, and Market Power in Wholesale Gasoline Markets," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(1), pages 116-139, Spring.
    3. Asche, Frank & Gjolberg, Ole & Volker, Teresa, 2003. "Price relationships in the petroleum market: an analysis of crude oil and refined product prices," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 289-301, May.
    4. Dubin, Jeffrey A. & Wilde, Louis L., 1988. "An Empirical Analysis of Federal Income Tax Auditing and Compliance," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 41(1), pages 61-74, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Marion, Justin & Muehlegger, Erich, 2011. "Fuel tax incidence and supply conditions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(9), pages 1202-1212.
    2. Shanjun Li & Joshua Linn & Erich Muehlegger, 2014. "Gasoline Taxes and Consumer Behavior," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 302-342, November.
    3. Sharat Ganapati & Joseph S. Shapiro & Reed Walker, 2016. "The Incidence of Carbon Taxes in U.S. Manufacturing: Lessons from Energy Cost Pass-Through," NBER Working Papers 22281, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Wojciech Kopczuk & Justin Marion & Erich Muehlegger & Joel Slemrod, 2016. "Does Tax-Collection Invariance Hold? Evasion and the Pass-Through of State Diesel Taxes," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 251-286, May.
    5. Kumler, Todd J. & Verhoogen, Eric & Frias, Judith A., 2013. "Enlisting Employees in Improving Payroll-Tax Compliance: Evidence from Mexico," IZA Discussion Papers 7591, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Fack, Gabrielle & Landais, Camille, 2016. "The effect of tax enforcement on tax elasticities: Evidence from charitable contributions in France," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 23-40.
    7. Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Klara Sabirianova Peter, 2009. "Myth and Reality of Flat Tax Reform: Micro Estimates of Tax Evasion Response and Welfare Effects in Russia," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(3), pages 504-554, June.
    8. Kazuki Onji, 2009. "A tale of pork prices : evasion and attenuation of a Japanese tariff," Trade Working Papers 22883, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    9. Tazhitdinova, Alisa, 2015. "Reducing Evasion Through Self-Reporting: Theory and Evidence from Charitable Contributions," MPRA Paper 81612, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 2017.
    10. Tonin, Mirco, 2011. "Minimum wage and tax evasion: Theory and evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1635-1651.
    11. Asatryan, Zareh & Peichl, Andreas, 2016. "Responses of firms to tax, administrative and accounting rules: Evidence from Armenia," ZEW Discussion Papers 16-065, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    12. Onji, Kazuki, 2014. "The price disparity analysis revisited: An application to pork imports in Japan," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 1-23.
    13. Stefano DellaVigna & Eliana La Ferrara, 2010. "Detecting Illegal Arms Trade," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 26-57, November.
    14. Mazhar Waseem, 2013. "Taxes, Informality and Income Shifting: Evidence from a Recent Pakistani Tax Reform," 2013 Papers pwa641, Job Market Papers.
    15. Kazuki Onji, 2009. "A Tale of Pork Prices: Evasion and Attenuation of a Japanese Tariff," Asia Pacific Economic Papers 382, Australia-Japan Research Centre, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    16. Davide Cerruti & Anna Alberini & Joshua Linn, 2017. "Charging Drivers by the Pound: The Effects of the UK Vehicle Tax System," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 17/271, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.
    17. Sharat Ganapati & Joseph S. Shapiro & Reed Walker, 2016. "The Incidence of Carbon Taxes in U.S. Manufacturing: Lessons from Energy Cost Pass-through," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 2038R3, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Mar 2018.

    More about this item

    Lists

    This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:
    1. Measuring Illegal Activity and the Effects of Regulatory Innovation: Tax Evasion and the Dyeing of Untaxed Diesel (JPE 2008) in ReplicationWiki

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:ucp:jpolec:v:116:y:2008:i:4:p:633-666. 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: (Journals Division). General contact details of provider: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JPE/ .

    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.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with 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.