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Exploring the Dark Side of Tax Policy: An Analysis of the Interactions between Fiscal Illusion and the Shadow Economy

Author

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  • Andreas Buehn
  • Roberto Dell' Anno
  • Friedrich Schneider

Abstract

This paper presents an empirical analysis of the relationship between fiscal illusion and the shadow economy for 104 countries over the period 1989–2009. We argue that both unobservable phenomena are closely linked to each other, as the creation of a fiscal illusion may be helpful if governments want to control shadow economic activities. Using a MIMIC model with two latent variables we confirm previous findings on the driving forces of the shadow economy and identify the main determinants and indicators of fiscal illusion. Most importantly, we find that fiscal illusion negatively affects the shadow economy and the shadow economy positively affects fiscal illusion. Concealing the real tax burden we find that an increase of taxation increases both shadow economic activities and fiscal illusion.

Suggested Citation

  • Andreas Buehn & Roberto Dell' Anno & Friedrich Schneider, 2015. "Exploring the Dark Side of Tax Policy: An Analysis of the Interactions between Fiscal Illusion and the Shadow Economy," CESifo Working Paper Series 5466, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_5466
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Congdon, William J. & Kling, Jeffrey R. & Mullainathan, Sendhil, 2009. "Behavioral Economics and Tax Policy," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 62(3), pages 375-386, September.
    2. Schneider, Friedrich, 2005. "Shadow economies around the world: what do we really know?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 598-642, September.
    3. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2009. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1145-1177, September.
    4. Tanzi, Vito, 1999. "Uses and Abuses of Estimates of the Underground Economy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(456), pages 338-347, June.
    5. Marika Cabral & Caroline Hoxby, 2012. "The Hated Property Tax: Salience, Tax Rates, and Tax Revolts," NBER Working Papers 18514, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Chong, Alberto & Gradstein, Mark, 2007. "Inequality and informality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1-2), pages 159-179, February.
    7. Axel Dreher & Christos Kotsogiannis & Steve McCorriston, 2009. "How do institutions affect corruption and the shadow economy?," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 16(6), pages 773-796, December.
    8. Richard Wagner, 1976. "Revenue structure, fiscal illusion, and budgetary choice," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 45-61, March.
    9. Seater, John J, 1993. "Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(1), pages 142-190, March.
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    11. Rupert Sausgruber & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2005. "Testing the Mill hypothesis of fiscal illusion," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 122(1), pages 39-68, January.
    12. Lars P. Feld & Friedrich Schneider, 2010. "Survey on the Shadow Economy and Undeclared Earnings in OECD Countries," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 11, pages 109-149, May.
    13. Raj Chetty, 2009. "The Simple Economics of Salience and Taxation," NBER Working Papers 15246, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. John G. Cullis & Philip R. Jones, 1987. "Fiscal Illusion and "Excessive" Budgets: Some Indirect Evidence," Public Finance Review, , vol. 15(2), pages 219-228, April.
    15. James Anderson & David Gerbing, 1984. "The effect of sampling error on convergence, improper solutions, and goodness-of-fit indices for maximum likelihood confirmatory factor analysis," Psychometrika, Springer;The Psychometric Society, vol. 49(2), pages 155-173, June.
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    17. Pommerehne, Werner W & Schneider, Friedrich, 1978. "Fiscal Illusion, Political Institutions, and Local Public Spending," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(3), pages 381-408.
    18. Roberto Dell’Anno & Brian Dollery, 2014. "Comparative fiscal illusion: a fiscal illusion index for the European Union," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 46(3), pages 937-960, May.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    fiscal illusion; shadow economy; MIMIC model; latent variables; tax burden; tax complexity;

    JEL classification:

    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy

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