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Optimal auditing and insurance in a dynamic model of tax compliance

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  • B. Ravikumar
  • Yuzhe Zhang

Abstract

We study the optimal auditing of a taxpayer’s income in a dynamic principal- agent model of hidden income. Taxpayers in our model initially have low income and stochastically transit to high income that is an absorbing state. A low-income taxpayer who transits to high income can underreport his true income and evade his taxes. With a constant absolute risk-aversion utility function and a costly and imperfect auditing technology, we show that the optimal auditing mechanism in our model consists of cycles. Within each cycle, a low-income taxpayer is initially unaudited, but if the duration of low-income reports exceeds a threshold, then the auditing probability becomes positive. That is, the tax authority guarantees that the taxpayer will not be audited until the threshold duration is reached. We also find that auditing becomes less frequent if the auditing cost is higher or if the variance of income is lower.

Suggested Citation

  • B. Ravikumar & Yuzhe Zhang, 2011. "Optimal auditing and insurance in a dynamic model of tax compliance," Working Papers 2011-020, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2011-020
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Zhang, Yuzhe, 2009. "Dynamic contracting with persistent shocks," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(2), pages 635-675, March.
    2. Ravikumar, B & Zhang, Yuzhe, 2010. "Optimal auditing in a dynamic model of tax compliance," MPRA Paper 22924, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Fernandes, Ana & Phelan, Christopher, 2000. "A Recursive Formulation for Repeated Agency with History Dependence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 223-247, April.
    4. Armenter, Roc & Mertens, Thomas M., 2013. "Fraud deterrence in dynamic Mirrleesian economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 139-151.
    5. Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2006. "Designing Optimal Disability Insurance: A Case for Asset Testing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(2), pages 257-279, April.
    6. Cyril Monnet & Erwan Quintin, 2005. "Optimal contracts in a dynamic costly state verification model," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 26(4), pages 867-885, November.
    7. Marek Kapicka, 2013. "Efficient Allocations in Dynamic Private Information Economies with Persistent Shocks: A First-Order Approach," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(3), pages 1027-1054.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Cheng Wang, 2005. "Dynamic costly state verification," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 25(4), pages 887-916, June.
    2. David L. Fuller & B. Ravikumar & Yuzhe Zhang, 2015. "Unemployment Insurance Fraud and Optimal Monitoring," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 249-290, April.
    3. Armenter, Roc & Mertens, Thomas M., 2013. "Fraud deterrence in dynamic Mirrleesian economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 139-151.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Tax auditing ; Taxation;

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings

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