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Importing Corruption Culture from Overseas: Evidence from Corporate Tax Evasion in the United States

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  • Jason M. DeBacker
  • Bradley T. Heim
  • Anh Tran

Abstract

This paper studies how cultural norms and enforcement policies influence illicit corporate activities. Using confidential IRS audit data, we show that corporations with owners from countries with higher corruption norms engage in higher amounts of tax evasion in the U.S. This effect is strong for small corporations and decreases as the size of the corporation increases. In the mid-2000s, the United States implemented several enforcement measures which significantly increased tax compliance. However, we find that these enforcement efforts were less effective in reducing tax evasion by corporations whose owners are from countries with higher corruption norms. This suggests that cultural norms can be a challenge to legal enforcement.

Suggested Citation

  • Jason M. DeBacker & Bradley T. Heim & Anh Tran, 2012. "Importing Corruption Culture from Overseas: Evidence from Corporate Tax Evasion in the United States," NBER Working Papers 17770, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17770
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    Cited by:

    1. Cyan, Musharraf R. & Koumpias, Antonios M. & Martinez-Vazquez, Jorge, 2016. "The determinants of tax morale in Pakistan," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 23-34.
    2. Philipp Doerrenberg & Jan Schmitz, 2017. "Tax compliance and information provision. A field experiment with small firms," Journal of Behavioral Economics for Policy, Society for the Advancement of Behavioral Economics (SABE), vol. 1(1), pages 47-54, February.
    3. repec:spr:joecth:v:63:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s00199-016-0976-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Alessandro Belmonte & Roberto Dell'Anno & Desiree Teobaldelli, 2016. "Tax Morale, Aversion to Ethnic Diversity, and Decentralization," Working Papers 07/2016, IMT Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca, revised Dec 2016.
    5. Philipp Doerrenberg & Andreas Peichl, 2017. "Tax morale and the role of social norms and reciprocity - Evidence from a randomized survey experiment," ifo Working Paper Series 242, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    6. Erzo F. P. Luttmer & Monica Singhal, 2014. "Tax Morale," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 28(4), pages 149-168, Fall.
    7. Braguinsky, Serguey & Mityakov, Sergey, 2015. "Foreign corporations and the culture of transparency: Evidence from Russian administrative data," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(1), pages 139-164.
    8. Chowdhury Mohammad Sakib Anwar & Alexander Matros & Sonali Sen Gupta, 2018. "Tax Evasion, Embezzlement and Public Good Provision," Working Papers 232397285, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    9. Liu, Xiaoding, 2016. "Corruption culture and corporate misconduct," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 122(2), pages 307-327.
    10. Moreno, Ignacio & Vázquez, Francisco J. & Watt, Richard, 2017. "Rationality and honesty of consumers in insurance decisions," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 36-46.
    11. Hasan, Iftekhar & Kim, Incheol & Teng, Haimeng & Wu, Qiang, 2016. "The effect of foreign institutional ownership on corporate tax avoidance: international evidence," Research Discussion Papers 26/2016, Bank of Finland.
    12. Kelvin K. F. Law & Lillian F. Mills, 2017. "Military experience and corporate tax avoidance," Review of Accounting Studies, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 141-184, March.
    13. repec:eee:accoun:v:52:y:2017:i:4:p:303-318 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Fabio Lamantia & Mario Pezzino & Fabio Tramontana, 2017. "Tax evasion, intrinsic motivation, and the evolutionary effects of tax reforms," The School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 1707, Economics, The University of Manchester.
    15. repec:prg:jnlaop:v:2017:y:2017:i:3:id:582:p:57-67 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • M14 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Corporate Culture; Diversity; Social Responsibility

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