Does It Pay Firms to Register for Taxes? The Impact of Formality on Firm Profitability
This paper estimates the impact of registering for taxes on firm profits in Bolivia, the country with the highest levels of informality in Latin America. A new survey of micro and small firms enables us to control for a rich set of measures of owner ability and business motivations that can affect both profits and the decision to formalize. We identify the impact of tax registration on business profitability using the distance of a firm from the tax office where registration occurs, conditional on the distance to the city center, as an instrument for registration. Proximity to the tax office provides firms with more information about registration, but is argued to not directly affect profits. We find tax registration leads to significantly higher profits for the firms that the instrument affects. However, we also find evidence of heterogeneous effects of tax formality on profits. Tax registration is found to increase profits for the mid-sized firms in our sample, but to lower profits for both the smaller and larger firms, in contrast to the standard view that formality increases profits. We show that owners of large firms who have managed to stay informal are of higher entrepreneurial ability than formal firm owners, in contrast to the standard view (correct among smaller firms) that informal firm owners are low ability.
|Date of creation:||Nov 2007|
|Publication status:||published in: Journal of Development Economics, 2010, 91(1), 15-24|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany|
Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page: http://www.iza.org
|Order Information:|| Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany|
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- David J. McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2006.
"Do Entry Costs Provide an Empirical Basis for Poverty Traps? Evidence from Mexican Microenterprises,"
Economic Development and Cultural Change,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 55, pages 3-42.
- McKenzie, David J & Woodruff, Christopher, 2006. "Do Entry Costs Provide an Empirical Basis for Poverty Traps? Evidence from Mexican Microenterprises," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(1), pages 3-42, October.
- Loayza, Norman A., 1997.
"The economics of the informal sector : a simple model and some empirical evidence from Latin America,"
Policy Research Working Paper Series
1727, The World Bank.
- Loayza, Norman V., 1996. "The economics of the informal sector: a simple model and some empirical evidence from Latin America," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 129-162, December.
- David Kaplan & Eduardo Piedra & Enrique Seira, 2007.
"Are Burdensome Registration Procedures an Important Barrier on Firm Creation? Evidence from Mexico,"
0701, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
- David Kaplan & Eduardo Piedra & Enrique Seira, 2006. "Are Burdensome Registration Procedures an Important Barrier on Firm Creation? Evidence from Mexico," Discussion Papers 06-013, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
- Kaplan, David S. & Piedra, Eduardo & Seira, Enrique, 2007. "Entry regulation and business start-ups : evidence from Mexico," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4322, The World Bank.
- Maloney, William, 2003.
Policy Research Working Paper Series
2965, The World Bank.
- Alberto Abadie & David Drukker & Jane Leber Herr & Guido W. Imbens, 2004. "Implementing matching estimators for average treatment effects in Stata," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 4(3), pages 290-311, September.
- Fajnzylber, Pablo & Maloney, William F. & Montes-Rojas, Gabriel V., 2009. "Does Formality Improve Micro-Firm Performance? Quasi-Experimental Evidence from the Brazilian SIMPLES Program," IZA Discussion Papers 4531, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Rauch, James E., 1991. "Modelling the informal sector formally," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 33-47, January.
- Friedrich Schneider & Dominik Enste, 2000.
"Shadow Economies Around the World; Size, Causes, and Consequences,"
IMF Working Papers
00/26, International Monetary Fund.
- Friedrich Schneider & Dominik Enste, 1999. "Shadow Economies Around the World - Size, Causes, and Consequences," CESifo Working Paper Series 196, CESifo Group Munich.
- Katayama, Hajime & Lu, Shihua & Tybout, James R., 2009. "Firm-level productivity studies: Illusions and a solution," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 403-413, May.
- Miriam Bruhn, 2011.
"License to Sell: The Effect of Business Registration Reform on Entrepreneurial Activity in Mexico,"
The Review of Economics and Statistics,
MIT Press, vol. 93(1), pages 382-386, February.
- Bruhn, Miriam, 2008. "License to sell : the effect of business registration reform on entrepreneurial activity in Mexico," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4538, The World Bank.
- Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens, 1995.
"Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects,"
NBER Technical Working Papers
0118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Imbens, Guido W & Angrist, Joshua D, 1994. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 467-475, March.
- John Gibson & David McKenzie, 2007. "Using the Global Positioning System (GPS) in Household Surveys For Better Economics and Better Policy," Working Papers in Economics 07/04, University of Waikato, Department of Economics.
- Stephane Straub, 2005.
"Informal Sector: The Credit Market Channel,"
ESE Discussion Papers
101, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
- Dominik H. Enste & Friedrich Schneider, 2000. "Shadow Economies: Size, Causes, and Consequences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 77-114, March.
- de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David & Woodruff, Christopher, 2007. "Measuring microenterprise profits : don't ask how the sausage is made," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4229, The World Bank.
- Fajnzylber, Pablo & Maloney, William F. & Rojas, Gabriel V. Montes, 2006. "Releasing constraints to growth or pushing on a string ? the impact of credit, training, business associations, and taxes on the performance of Mexican micro-firms," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3807, The World Bank.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3179. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.