The Effect of Fiscal Policy and Corruption Control Mechanisms on Firm Growth and Social Welfare: Theory and Evidence
The paper investigates the conflict that arises between the government, its bureaucrats and businesses in the tax collection process. We examine the effect of fiscal policy and corruption control mechanisms on the prevalence of tax evasion and corruption behaviour, and their impact on firm growth and social welfare. We first model a situation where bureaucrats are homogeneous and have complete negotiating power over the firms with which they interact. We show that in such a situation the government can set an optimal tax rate and put in place a corruption control mechanism involving detection of corrupt bureaucrats within the framework of a no-corruption equilibrium. However, when the public administration is composed of heterogeneous types of bureaucrats with the specific ability to impose red tape costs on firms, we show, like Acemoglu and Verdier (2000), that it might be best for the government to allow a certain level of corruption, given the cost of monitoring activities. We also show that the government could face lose-lose as well as win-win situations in the conduct of its fiscal policies. We then verify the predictions of the model using firm-level data collected from 243 businesses in Uganda. We test the effect of monitoring on bribe and tax payments. We also test the effect of tax rates and corruption control mechanisms on firm growth. We compare the effect of actual corruption (as measured by bribe payments) with the effect of government corruption expectations on firms’ growth.
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