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VAT Fraud and Evasion: What Do We Know, and What Can be Done?

  • Stephen Smith
  • Michael Keen

Like any tax, the VAT is vulnerable to evasion and fraud. But its credit and refund mechanism does offer unique opportunities for abuse, and this has recently become an urgent concern in the European Union (EU). This paper describes the main forms of noncompliance distinctive to a VAT, considers how they can be addressed, and assesses evidence on their extent in high-income countries. While the practical significance of current difficulties in the EU should not be over-stated, administrative measures alone may prove insufficient to deal with them, and a fundamental redesign of the VAT treatment of intra-community trade required. The current difficulties in the EU largely reflect circumstances that would not apply in the United States.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 07/31.

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Length: 33
Date of creation: 01 Feb 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:07/31
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  1. Keen, Michael & Mintz, Jack, 2004. "The optimal threshold for a value-added tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(3-4), pages 559-576, March.
  2. Kent Matthews, 2003. "VAT Evasion and VAT Avoidance: Is there a European Laffer curve for VAT?," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(1), pages 105-114.
  3. Joel Slemrod, 2007. "Cheating Ourselves: The Economics of Tax Evasion," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(1), pages 25-48, Winter.
  4. Graham Harrison & Russell Krelove, 2005. "VAT Refunds: A Review of Country Experience," IMF Working Papers 05/218, International Monetary Fund.
  5. Hans-Werner Sinn & Andrea Gebauer & Rüdiger Parsche, 2004. "The Ifo Institute’s Model for Reducing VAT Fraud: Payment First, Refund Later," CESifo Forum, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 5(2), pages 30-34, October.
  6. Agha, Ali & Haughton, Jonathan, 1996. "Designing VAT Systems: Some Efficiency Considerations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(2), pages 303-08, May.
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