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The dynamic effects of tax audits


  • Arun Advani

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

  • William Elming

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Institute for Fiscal Studies)

  • Jonathan Shaw

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Financial Conduct Authority)


Understanding tax non-compliance and the effectiveness of strategies to tackle it is crucial for a modern tax authority. In this paper we study how and why audits impact reported tax in the years after audit - the dynamic effect - for individual income taxpayers. We exploit data from a random audit program covering almost 35,000 income tax self assessment returns in the UK. We show that audits raise reported tax liabilities for at least ve years after audit, with the magnitude of the impact declining over time. In total this raises an additional $1; 230 per audited individual in the fi ve years after audit, 1.5 times the direct revenue raised from the audit. Looking by income source, we see that the magnitude of the initial impact is lower for income components which are third party reported, and the impact declines more quickly for components that are more volatile. We develop a model to allow us to distinguish different mechanisms that might explain the presence of dynamic effects, and show our fi ndings can only be explained by audits providing improved information to the tax authority.

Suggested Citation

  • Arun Advani & William Elming & Jonathan Shaw, 2017. "The dynamic effects of tax audits," IFS Working Papers W17/24, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:17/24

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    Cited by:

    1. Marie Bjørneby & Annette Alstadsæter & Kjetil Telle, 2018. "Collusive Tax Evasion by Employers and Employees: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment in Norway," CESifo Working Paper Series 7381, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Pomeranz, Dina D. & Vila-Belda, José, 2019. "Taking State-Capacity Research to the Field: Insights from Collaborations with Tax Authorities," CEPR Discussion Papers 13688, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Knut Løyland & Oddbjørn Raaum & Gaute Torsvik & Arnstein Øvrum, 2019. "Compliance effects of risk-based tax audits," CESifo Working Paper Series 7616, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Kotsogiannis, Christos & Mateos-Planas, Xavier, 2019. "Tax evasion as contingent debt," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 100941, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Duccio Gamannossi degl'Innocenti & Matthew D. Rablen, 2018. "Tax Evasion on a Social Network," CESifo Working Paper Series 7063, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. John Guyton & Kara Leibel & Dayanand S. Manoli & Ankur Patel & Mark Payne & Brenda Schafer, 2018. "The Effects of EITC Correspondence Audits on Low-Income Earners," NBER Working Papers 24465, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Christos Kotsogiannis & Xavier Mateos-Planas, 2019. "Tax Evasion as Contingent Debt," Discussion Papers 1903, Centre for Macroeconomics (CFM).

    More about this item


    tax audits; tax revenue; tax reporting decisions; income tax; self assessment; HMRC;

    JEL classification:

    • D04 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Policy: Formulation; Implementation; Evaluation
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • H83 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - Public Administration

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