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Benford's law predicted digit distribution of aggregated income taxes: the surprising conformity of Italian cities and regions

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  • Tariq Ahmad Mir
  • Marcel Ausloos
  • Roy Cerqueti

Abstract

The yearly aggregated tax income data of all, more than 8000, Italian municipalities are analyzed for a period of five years, from 2007 to 2011, to search for conformity or not with Benford's law, a counter-intuitive phenomenon observed in large tabulated data where the occurrence of numbers having smaller initial digits is more favored than those with larger digits. This is done in anticipation that large deviations from Benford's law will be found in view of tax evasion supposedly being widespread across Italy. Contrary to expectations, we show that the overall tax income data for all these years is in excellent agreement with Benford's law. Furthermore, we also analyze the data of Calabria, Campania and Sicily, the three Italian regions known for strong presence of mafia, to see if there are any marked deviations from Benford's law. Again, we find that all yearly data sets for Calabria and Sicily agree with Benford's law whereas only the 2007 and 2008 yearly data show departures from the law for Campania. These results are again surprising in view of underground and illegal nature of economic activities of mafia which significantly contribute to tax evasion. Some hypothesis for the found conformity is presented.

Suggested Citation

  • Tariq Ahmad Mir & Marcel Ausloos & Roy Cerqueti, 2014. "Benford's law predicted digit distribution of aggregated income taxes: the surprising conformity of Italian cities and regions," Papers 1410.2890, arXiv.org.
  • Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1410.2890
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. T. A. Mir, 2016. "The leading digit distribution of the worldwide illicit financial flows," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 271-281, January.
    2. T. Mir, 2016. "The leading digit distribution of the worldwide illicit financial flows," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 271-281, January.
    3. Alexandre Donizeti Alves & Horacio Hideki Yanasse & Nei Yoshihiro Soma, 2016. "An analysis of bibliometric indicators to JCR according to Benford’s law," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 107(3), pages 1489-1499, June.
    4. Marcel Ausloos & Rosella Castellano & Roy Cerqueti, 2016. "Regularities and Discrepancies of Credit Default Swaps: a Data Science approach through Benford's Law," Papers 1603.01103, arXiv.org.
    5. Ausloos, Marcel & Jovanovic, Franck & Schinckus, Christophe, 2016. "On the “usual” misunderstandings between econophysics and finance: Some clarifications on modelling approaches and efficient market hypothesis," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 7-14.
    6. Bormashenko, Ed. & Shulzinger, E. & Whyman, G. & Bormashenko, Ye., 2016. "Benford’s law, its applicability and breakdown in the IR spectra of polymers," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 444(C), pages 524-529.
    7. Marcel Ausloos & Roy Cerqueti & Tariq A. Mir, 2018. "Data on the annual aggregated income taxes of the Italian municipalities over the quinquennium 2007-2011," Papers 1806.10935, arXiv.org.
    8. Ausloos, Marcel & Cerqueti, Roy & Lupi, Claudio, 2017. "Long-range properties and data validity for hydrogeological time series: The case of the Paglia river," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 470(C), pages 39-50.
    9. Jing Shi & Marcel Ausloos & Tingting Zhu, 2017. "Benford's law first significant digit and distribution distances for testing the reliability of financial reports in developing countries," Papers 1712.00131, arXiv.org.
    10. repec:eee:phsmap:v:509:y:2018:i:c:p:754-765 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Marcel Ausloos & Roy Cerqueti, 2016. "Studies on Regional Wealth Inequalities: the case of Italy," Papers 1602.05356, arXiv.org.
    12. Marcel Ausloos & Roy Cerqueti & Tariq A. Mir, 2017. "Data science for assessing possible tax income manipulation: The case of Italy," Papers 1709.02129, arXiv.org.
    13. Jovanovic, Franck & Schinckus, Christophe, 2017. "Econophysics and Financial Economics: An Emerging Dialogue," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780190205034.
    14. Whyman, G. & Ohtori, N. & Shulzinger, E. & Bormashenko, Ed., 2016. "Revisiting the Benford law: When the Benford-like distribution of leading digits in sets of numerical data is expectable?," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 461(C), pages 595-601.

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