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Production vs Revenue Efficiency With Limited Tax Capacity: Theory and Evidence From Pakistan

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  • Best, Michael
  • Brockmeyer, Anne
  • Kleven, Henrik
  • Spinnewijn, Johannes
  • Waseem, Mazhar

Abstract

This paper analyzes the design of tax systems under imperfect enforcement. A common policy in developing countries is to impose minimum tax schemes whereby firms are taxed either on profits or on turnover, depending on which tax liability is larger. This production inefficient tax policy has been motivated by the idea that the broader turnover tax base is harder to evade. Minimum tax schemes give rise to a kink point in firms' choice sets as the tax rate and tax base jump discontinuously when one tax liability surpasses the other. Using administrative tax records on corporations in Pakistan, we find large bunching around the minimum tax kink. We show that the combined tax rate and tax base change at the kink provides small real incentives for bunching, making the policy ideal for eliciting evasion. We develop an empirical approach allowing us to put (tight) bounds on the evasion response to switches between profit and turnover taxation, and find that turnover taxes reduce evasion by up to 60-70% of corporate income. Our analysis sheds new light on the use of production-inefficient tax tools in countries with limited tax capacity and can easily be replicated in other contexts as the quasi-experimental variation needed is ubiquitous.

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  • Best, Michael & Brockmeyer, Anne & Kleven, Henrik & Spinnewijn, Johannes & Waseem, Mazhar, 2013. "Production vs Revenue Efficiency With Limited Tax Capacity: Theory and Evidence From Pakistan," CEPR Discussion Papers 9717, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9717
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Khan, Adnan Q. & Khwaja, Asim I. & Olken, Benjamin A., 2016. "Tax farming redux: experimental evidence on performance pay for tax collectors," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 66265, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Kumler, Todd J. & Verhoogen, Eric & Frias, Judith A., 2013. "Enlisting Employees in Improving Payroll-Tax Compliance: Evidence from Mexico," IZA Discussion Papers 7591, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Julia Cage & Lucie Gadenne, 2014. "Tax Revenues, Development, and the Fiscal Cost of Trade Liberalization, 1792-2006," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/4icc4hr7684, Sciences Po.
    4. Miguel Almunia & David Lopez-Rodriguez, 2018. "Under the Radar: The Effects of Monitoring Firms on Tax Compliance," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 1-38, February.
    5. Godin, M. & Hindriks, J., 2015. "A Review of Critical Issues on Tax Design and Tax Administration in a Global Economy and Developing Countries," CORE Discussion Papers 2015028, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    6. Hoseini, Mohammad, 2015. "Value-Addes Tax and Shadow Economy : the Role of Input-Output Linkages (revision of CentER Discussion Paper 2013-036)," Discussion Paper 2015-058, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    7. Beer, Sebastian & Loeprick, Jan, 2017. "Taxing income in the oil and gas sector — Challenges of international and domestic profit shifting," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 186-198.
    8. Mazhar Waseem, 2013. "Taxes, Informality and Income Shifting: Evidence from a Recent Pakistani Tax Reform," 2013 Papers pwa641, Job Market Papers.
    9. Merima Ali & Abdulaziz B. Shifa & Abebe Shimeles & Firew Woldeyes, 2015. "Building fiscal capacity in developing countries: Evidence on the role of information technology," CMI Working Papers 12, CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway.
    10. repec:nam:befdwp:7 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Anne Brockmeyer, 2013. "The investment effect of taxation: evidence from a corporate tax kink," Working Papers 1317, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
    12. Brockmeyer,Anne & Hernandez,Marco, 2016. "Taxation, information, and withholding : evidence from Costa Rica," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7600, The World Bank.
    13. Adnan Q. Khan & Asim I. Khwaja & Benjamin A. Olken, 2014. "Tax Farming Redux: Experimental Evidence on Performance Pay for Tax Collectors," NBER Working Papers 20627, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Catalina Tejada & Eliana Ferrara & Henrik Kleven & Florian Blum & Oriana Bandiera & Michel Azulai, 2015. "State Effectiveness, Growth, and Development," Working Papers id:6668, eSocialSciences.

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