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Social networks and tax avoidance: Evidence from a well-defined Norwegian tax shelter

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  • Alstadsaeter, Annette
  • Kopczuk, Wojciech
  • Telle, Kjetil

Abstract

In 2005, over 8% of Norwegian shareholders transferred their shares to new (legal) tax shelters intended to defer taxation of capital gains and dividends that would otherwise be taxable in the aftermath of 2006 reform. Using detailed administrative data we identify family networks and describe how take up of tax avoidance progresses within a network. A feature of the reform was that the ability to set up a tax shelter changed discontinuously with individual shareholding of a firm and we use this fact to estimate the causal effect of availability of tax avoidance for a taxpayer on tax avoidance by others in the network. We find that take up in a social network increases the likelihood that others will take up. This suggests that taxpayers affect each other's decisions about tax avoidance, highlighting the importance of accounting for social interactions in understanding enforcement and tax avoidance behavior, and providing a concrete example of "optimization frictions" in the context of behavioral responses to taxation.

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  • Alstadsaeter, Annette & Kopczuk, Wojciech & Telle, Kjetil, 2018. "Social networks and tax avoidance: Evidence from a well-defined Norwegian tax shelter," CEPR Discussion Papers 13251, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:13251
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    Cited by:

    1. Wolfgang Frimmel & Martin Halla & Jörg Paetzold, 2019. "The Intergenerational Causal Effect of Tax Evasion: Evidence from the Commuter Tax Allowance in Austria," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 17(6), pages 1843-1880.
    2. Annette Alstadsæter & Martin Jacob & Wojciech Kopczuk & Kjetil Telle, 2016. "Accounting for Business Income in Measuring Top Income Shares: Integrated Accrual Approach Using Individual and Firm Data from Norway," NBER Working Papers 22888, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Boning, William C. & Guyton, John & Hodge, Ronald & Slemrod, Joel, 2020. "Heard it through the grapevine: The direct and network effects of a tax enforcement field experiment on firms," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 190(C).
    4. Bastani, Spencer & Giebe, Thomas & Miao, Chizheng, 2020. "Ethnicity and tax filing behavior," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 116(C).
    5. Áureo de Paula, 2015. "Econometrics of network models," CeMMAP working papers CWP52/15, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    6. Giulia Mascagni, 2018. "From The Lab To The Field: A Review Of Tax Experiments," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(2), pages 273-301, April.
    7. Alstadsæter, Annette & Johannesen, Niels & Le Guern Herry, Ségal & Zucman, Gabriel, 2022. "Tax evasion and tax avoidance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 206(C).
    8. Annette Alstadsæter & Wojciech Kopczuk & Kjetil Telle, 2014. "Are Closely Held Firms Tax Shelters?," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 28, pages 1-32, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Gamannossi degl’Innocenti, Duccio & Rablen, Matthew D., 2020. "Tax evasion on a social network," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 169(C), pages 79-91.
    10. Blesse, Sebastian, 2021. "Are your tax problems an opportunity not to pay taxes? Evidence from a randomized survey experiment," ZEW Discussion Papers 21-040, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    11. Francesco Drago & Friederike Mengel & Christian Traxler, 2020. "Compliance Behavior in Networks: Evidence from a Field Experiment," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 96-133, April.
    12. Max Gillman, 2021. "Income tax evasion: tax elasticity, welfare, and revenue," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 28(3), pages 533-566, June.
    13. Jeffrey L. Hoopes & Daniel H. Reck & Joel Slemrod, 2015. "Taxpayer Search for Information: Implications for Rational Attention," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 177-208, August.
    14. Alstadsæter, Annette & Jacob, Martin, 2013. "The effect of awareness and incentives on tax evasion," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 147, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    15. Di Gioacchino, Debora & Fichera, Domenico, 2020. "Tax evasion and tax morale: A social network analysis," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 65(C).
    16. Essi Eerola & Tuomas Kosonen & Kaisa Kotakorpi & Teemu Lyytikäinen, 2019. "Tax Compliance in the RentalHousing Market: Evidence from aField Experiment," Discussion Papers 126, Aboa Centre for Economics.
    17. Riedel, Nadine & Strohmaier, Kristina & Lediga, Collen, 2019. "Spatial Tax Enforcement Spillovers: Evidence from South Africa," VfS Annual Conference 2019 (Leipzig): 30 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall - Democracy and Market Economy 203500, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • H32 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Firm

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