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The Return to Tax Simplification: An Econometric Analysis

  • Joel Slemrod

The purpose of this paper is to provide estimates of the probable saving in the resource cost of complying with the tax law that would result from simplifying the individual income tax law. These estimates are based on an econometric analysis of the tax filing behavior in 1982 of a sample of Minnesota taxpayers. A simple model of tax compliance behavior based on utility maximization is first presented in order to suggest the important determinants of compliance behavior. The empirical model treats the discrete choices of whether to itemize deductions and whether to hire professional tax advice, and the choice of how much time and money to spend, conditional on the discrete choices made. Simulations based on the econometric results suggest that significant resource saving could be expected from eliminating the system of itemized deductions, although no significant saving from changing to a single-rate tax structure can be confidently predicted.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w1756.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 1756.

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Date of creation: Oct 1985
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Publication status: published as Joel Slemrod, 1989. "The Return To Tax Simplification: an Econometric Analysis," Public Finance Review, , vol. 17(1), pages 3-27, January.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1756
Note: PE
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  1. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1981. "Utilitarianism and Horizontal Equity: The Case for Random Taxation," NBER Working Papers 0694, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Joel Slemrod & Nikki Sorum, 1984. "The Compliance Cost of the U.S. Individual Income Tax System," NBER Working Papers 1401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Lee, Lung-fei & Maddala, G S & Trost, R P, 1980. "Asymptotic Covariance Matrices of Two-Stage Probit and Two-Stage Tobit Methods for Simultaneous Equations Models with Selectivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(2), pages 491-503, March.
  4. Allingham, Michael G. & Sandmo, Agnar, 1972. "Income tax evasion: a theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3-4), pages 323-338, November.
  5. Weiss, Laurence, 1976. "The Desirability of Cheating Incentives and Randomness in the Optimal Income Tax," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(6), pages 1343-52, December.
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