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Tax Evasion, Minimum Wage Non-Compliance and Informality

  • Basu, Arnab K.

    ()

    (Cornell University)

  • Chau, Nancy

    ()

    (Cornell University)

  • Siddique, Zahra

    ()

    (University of Reading)

We study the impact of tax and minimum wage reforms on the incidence of informality. To gauge the incidence of informality, we use measures of the extent of tax evasion, the extent of minimum wage non-compliance, and the size of the informal workforce. Our approach allows us to examine (i) the distinction between determinants of firm-level reported wage distribution and actual wage distribution, (ii) the complementarity of tax and minimum wage enforcement, (iii) the impact that a minimum wage reform has on tax and minimum wage compliance, and (iv) the impact that a tax policy reform has on tax and minimum wage compliance. We conclude with the design of optimal minimum wage and tax policies (even in the complete absence of minimum wage enforcement). We do so based on two objectives derived from popular concerns associated with an unchecked expansion of informality: tax revenue maximization, and poverty alleviation among workers.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6228.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Research in Labor Economics, 2012, 34, 1-53
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6228
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  1. Rita Almeida & Pedro Carneiro, 2011. "Enforcement of labor regulation and informality," CeMMAP working papers CWP29/11, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  2. Alberto Chong & Jose Galdo & Jaime Saavedra, 2008. "Informality and productivity in the labor market in Peru," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor and Francis Journals, vol. 11(4), pages 229-245.
  3. Aureo de Paula & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2009. "Value Added Taxes, Chain Effects and Informality," PIER Working Paper Archive 09-030, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  4. Jaime Saavedra & Alberto Chong, 1999. "Structural reform, institutions and earnings: Evidence from the formal and informal sectors in urban Peru," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(4), pages 95-116.
  5. James J. Heckman & Carmen Pagés, 2004. "Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number heck04-1, May.
  6. Basu, Arnab K. & Chau, Nancy H. & Kanbur, Ravi, 2005. "Turning a Blind Eye: Costly Enforcement, Credible Commitment and Minimum Wage Laws," Working Papers 127081, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  7. Gindling, T.H. & Terrell, Katherine, 2010. "Minimum Wages, Globalization, and Poverty in Honduras," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 908-918, June.
  8. James Albrecht & Lucas Navarro & Susan Vroman, 2008. "The Effects of Labour Market Policies in an Economy with an Informal Sector," ILADES-Georgetown University Working Papers inv208, Ilades-Georgetown University, Universidad Alberto Hurtado/School of Economics and Bussines.
  9. Sara lemos, 2004. "The Effects of the Minimum Wage in the Formal and Informal Sectors in Brazil," Discussion Papers in Economics 04/8, Department of Economics, University of Leicester.
  10. William Maloney & Jairo Mendez, 2004. "Measuring the Impact of Minimum Wages. Evidence from Latin America," NBER Chapters, in: Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean, pages 109-130 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Lemos, Sara, 2009. "Minimum wage effects in a developing country," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 224-237, April.
  12. Mirco Tonin, 2007. "Minimum Wage and Tax Evasion: Theory and Evidence," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp865, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  13. Gabrieli, T. & Galvao Jr, A. F. & Montes-Rojas, G., 2010. "Who benefits from reducing the cost of formality? Quantile regression discontinuity analysis," Working Papers 10/07, Department of Economics, City University London.
  14. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1974. "Income tax evasion: A theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 201-202, May.
  15. Strobl, Eric & Walsh, Frank, 2003. "Minimum Wages and Compliance: The Case of Trinidad and Tobago," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(2), pages 427-50, January.
  16. James J. Heckman & Carmen Pagés, 2004. "Introduction to "Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin American and the Caribbean"," NBER Chapters, in: Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean, pages 1-108 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Straub, Stéphane, 2005. "Informal sector: The credit market channel," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 299-321, December.
  18. Gindling, T. H. & Terrell, Katherine, 1995. "The nature of minimum wages and their effectiveness as a wage floor in Costa Rica, 1976-1991," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 23(8), pages 1439-1458, August.
  19. Frank A. Cowell, 1990. "Cheating the Government: The Economics of Evasion," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262532484, June.
  20. Erik Jonasson, 2012. "Government Effectiveness and Regional Variation in Informal Employment," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(4), pages 481-497, June.
  21. Fields, Gary S., 1975. "Rural-urban migration, urban unemployment and underemployment, and job-search activity in LDCs," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 165-187, June.
  22. Basu, Arnab K & Chau, Nancy H & Kanbur, Ravi, 2011. "Contractual Dualism, Market Power and Informality," CEPR Discussion Papers 8485, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  23. Fugazza, Marco & Jacques, Jean-Francois, 2004. "Labor market institutions, taxation and the underground economy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1-2), pages 395-418, January.
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