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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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
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    3. Dina Pomeranz, 2015. "No Taxation without Information: Deterrence and Self-Enforcement in the Value Added Tax," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(8), pages 2539-2569, August.
    4. Annette Alstadsaeter & Wojciech Kopczuk & Kjetil Telle, 2014. "Are Closely Held Firms Tax Shelters?," Tax Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(1), pages 1-32.
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    8. Damon Jones, 2012. "Inertia and Overwithholding: Explaining the Prevalence of Income Tax Refunds," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 158-185, February.
    9. Wojciech Kopczuk & Joel Slemrod, 2006. "Putting Firms into Optimal Tax Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 130-134, May.
    10. Allingham, Michael G. & Sandmo, Agnar, 1972. "Income tax evasion: a theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3-4), pages 323-338, November.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Frimmel, Wolfgang & Halla, Martin & Paetzold, Jörg, 2017. "The Intergenerational Causal Effect of Tax Evasion: Evidence from the Commuter Tax Allowance in Austria," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168244, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Spencer Bastani & Thomas Giebe & Chizheng Miao, 2019. "Ethnicity and tax filing behavior," CESifo Working Paper Series 7576, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Áureo de Paula, 2015. "Econometrics of network models," CeMMAP working papers CWP52/15, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    7. 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.
    8. Annette Alstadsaeter & Wojciech Kopczuk & Kjetil Telle, 2014. "Are Closely Held Firms Tax Shelters?," Tax Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(1), pages 1-32.
    9. Drago, Francesco & Mengel, Friederike & Traxler, Christian, 2015. "Compliance Behavior in Networks: Evidence from a Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 9443, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    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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