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Risk Aversion and Income Tax Enforcement

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  • Parkash Chander

Abstract

This paper characterizes optimal income tax and audit schemes in the presence of costly enforcement when the agent is risk averse and not necessarily risk neutral. It is shown that the results under risk-neutrality (Chander and Wilde (1998)) largely hold under risk aversion. We first show that in an optimal scheme the tax evasion decision of the agent is equivalent to risking his entire income against a possible gain in terms of lower tax payment. We then introduce a measure of aversion to such large risks. In contrast, the Arrow-Pratt coefficients of risk aversion measure aversion to small risks only. We show that the optimal tax function is non-decreasing and concave if the agent’s aversion to large risks, as defined in terms of our measure, is decreasing with income. The optimal audit function is non-increasing and the audits may be random or deterministic.

Suggested Citation

  • Parkash Chander, 2004. "Risk Aversion and Income Tax Enforcement," Econometric Society 2004 Far Eastern Meetings 531, Econometric Society.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecm:feam04:531
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    File URL: http://repec.org/esFEAM04/up.7580.1079077139.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sanchez, Isabel & Sobel, Joel, 1993. "Hierarchical design and enforcement of income tax policies," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 345-369, March.
    2. CHANDER, Parkash, 2000. "A simple measure of risk aversion in the large and an application," CORE Discussion Papers 2000041, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    3. Winton, Andrew, 1995. "Costly State Verification and Multiple Investors: The Role of Seniority," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 8(1), pages 91-123.
    4. Nahum D. Melumad & Dilip Mookherjee, 1989. "Delegation as Commitment: The Case of Income Tax Audits," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 20(2), pages 139-163, Summer.
    5. Sinclair-Desgagne, Bernard & Gabel, H. Landis, 1997. "Environmental Auditing in Management Systems and Public Policy," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 331-346, July.
    6. J. A. Mirrlees, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 175-208.
    7. Kim C. Border & Joel Sobel, 1987. "Samurai Accountant: A Theory of Auditing and Plunder," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 54(4), pages 525-540.
    8. Dreze, Jacques H. & Modigliani, Franco, 1972. "Consumption decisions under uncertainty," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 308-335, December.
    9. Dilip Mookherjee & Ivan Png, 1989. "Optimal Auditing, Insurance, and Redistribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(2), pages 399-415.
    10. Parkash Chander & Louis L. Wilde, 1998. "A General Characterization of Optimal Income Tax Enforcement," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(1), pages 165-183.
    11. Reinganum, Jennifer F. & Wilde, Louis L., 1985. "Income tax compliance in a principal-agent framework," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 1-18, February.
    12. Ronald A. Dye, 1986. "Optimal Monitoring Policies in Agencies," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(3), pages 339-350, Autumn.
    13. Myles,Gareth D., 1995. "Public Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521497695.
    14. Aumann, Robert J & Kurz, Mordecai, 1977. "Power and Taxes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(5), pages 1137-1161, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Amedeo Piolatto & Gwenola Trotin, 2011. "Optimal tax enforcement under prospect theory," Working Papers 2011/29, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    expected utility; risk aversion; principal-agent; adverse selection;

    JEL classification:

    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law

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