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Tax Avoidance, Endogenous Social Norms, and the Comparison Income Effect

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  • Alessandro Balestrino

Abstract

We present a model of income tax avoidance with heterogeneous agents, assuming the presence of a comparison income effect and of a psychic cost (disutility) of tax dodging. We analyse the policy preferences of the agents, and identify a median-voter political equilibrium. Paralleling previous results in the optimal taxation literature, we show that the comparison income effect calls for a high degree of progressivity of the income tax; additionally, we find that this tendence is strengthened by the psychic cost of avoidance. We then model the endogenous formation of the stigma attached to the act of avoidance as a "conformism game". We argue that such stigma is motivated by the desire to make redistribution more effective, and that it is enhanced by the income comparison effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Alessandro Balestrino, 2006. "Tax Avoidance, Endogenous Social Norms, and the Comparison Income Effect," CESifo Working Paper Series 1758, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1758
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alessandro Balestrino & Umberto Galmarini, 2003. "Imperfect Tax Compliance and the Optimal Provision of Public Goods," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(1), pages 37-52, January.
    2. Assar Lindbeck & Sten Nyberg & Jörgen W. Weibull, 1999. "Social Norms and Economic Incentives in the Welfare State," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-35.
    3. Johnson, Simon & Kaufmann, Daniel & Zoido-Lobaton, Pablo, 1998. "Regulatory Discretion and the Unofficial Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 387-392, May.
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    5. Simon Johnson & Daniel Kaufman & Andrei Shleifer, 1997. "The Unofficial Economy in Transition," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(2), pages 159-240.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    tax avoidance; social norms; conformism; comparison income; median voter;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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