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Solving the Yitzhaki Paradox: Income Tax Evasion and Reference Dependence under Prospect Theory

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  • Gwenola Trotin

    () (GREQAM - Groupement de Recherche en Économie Quantitative d'Aix-Marseille - ECM - Ecole Centrale de Marseille - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - AMU - Aix Marseille Université - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales)

Abstract

This paper examines the determinants of tax evasion under prospect theory. For prospect theory, reference dependence is a fundamental element (the utility function depends on gains and losses relative to a reference point and not on final wealths as in expected utility theory). In order to identify the determinants of the income tax evasion decision, a general reference income is used. We show that results obtained under expected utility theory are not robust. In particular, tax evasion is increasing in the tax rate as soon as a suitable relative risk aversion measure is larger with auditing, than without. With this simple and testable condition, prospect theory provides a general framework consistent with empirical evidence for the tax evasion behaviour problem.

Suggested Citation

  • Gwenola Trotin, 2012. "Solving the Yitzhaki Paradox: Income Tax Evasion and Reference Dependence under Prospect Theory," Working Papers halshs-00793664, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:halshs-00793664
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00793664
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    1. Michele Bernasconi & Alberto Zanardi, 2004. "Tax Evasion, Tax Rates, and Reference Dependence," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 60(3), pages 422-422, September.
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    6. Matthew Rabin, 2000. "Risk Aversion and Expected-Utility Theory: A Calibration Theorem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1281-1292, September.
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    11. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    12. 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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    1. repec:kap:theord:v:82:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s11238-016-9581-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Amedeo Piolatto & Matthew D. Rablen, 2017. "Prospect theory and tax evasion: a reconsideration of the Yitzhaki puzzle," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 82(4), pages 543-565, April.
    3. Rao, R. Kavita & Tandon, Suranjali, 2016. "Revisiting the tax compliance problem using prospect theory," Working Papers 16/169, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.
    4. R.Kavita Rao & Suranjali Tandon, 2016. "Revisiting the Tax Compliance Problem using Prospect Theory," Working Papers id:11225, eSocialSciences.

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