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Tax administration and compliance: evidence from medieval Paris

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  • Slivinski, Al
  • Sussman, Nathan

Abstract

We analyze the Parisian taille of the late 13th century - a taxation mechanism used to finance periodic major expenditures by the French Crown, including wars. Our major finding is that this system was remarkably successful along a number of dimensions, in an environment without the administrative structures used by contemporary governments. The taille's essential features were; an agreement between the king and city government to collect a fixed amount of revenue, and a collection process that made use of information about taxpayers held by their fellow artisans and/or neighbors. We show that it collected considerable sums without social unrest, with high levels of compliance, and administrative costs that were low even by modern standards. We also argue that its success may have lessons for improved tax collection and compliance in contemporary less-developed economies.

Suggested Citation

  • Slivinski, Al & Sussman, Nathan, 2019. "Tax administration and compliance: evidence from medieval Paris," CEPR Discussion Papers 13512, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:13512
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Besley, Timothy J., 2019. "State Capacity, Reciprocity, and the Social Contract," CEPR Discussion Papers 13968, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    compliance; evasion; Fairness; institutions; middle ages; Paris; taxation;

    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N43 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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