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America’s Underground Economy: Measuring the Size, Growth and Determinants of Income Tax Evasion in the U.S

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  • Feige, Edgar L.
  • Cebula, Richard

Abstract

Abstract This study empirically investigates the extent of non compliance with the tax code and the determinants of federal income tax evasion in the U.S. Employing the most recent data we find that 18-19% of total reportable income is not properly reported to the IRS, giving rise to a “tax gap” approaching $500 billion dollars. Three time periods are studied, 1960-2008, 1970-2008, and 1980-2008. It is found across study periods that income tax evasion is an increasing function of the average effective federal income tax rate, the unemployment rate, public dissatisfaction with government, and per capita real GDP (adopted as a measure of income), and a decreasing function of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (during its first two years of being implemented). Modest evidence of a negative impact of IRS audit rates on tax evasion is also detected.

Suggested Citation

  • Feige, Edgar L. & Cebula, Richard, 2011. "America’s Underground Economy: Measuring the Size, Growth and Determinants of Income Tax Evasion in the U.S," MPRA Paper 29672, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:29672
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Thurman, Quint C, 1991. "Taxpayer Noncompliance and General Prevention: An Expansion of the Deterrence Model," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 46(2), pages 289-298.
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    4. Richard J. Cebula, 2001. "Impact of income-detection technology and other factors on aggregate income tax evasion:the case of the United States," Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 54(219), pages 401-415.
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    Cited by:

    1. Farid Ameur & Mohamed Tkiouat, 2016. "A Contribution of Expected Utility Theory in Taxpayers’ Behavior Modeling," International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues, Econjournals, vol. 6(3), pages 1217-1224.
    2. repec:cbu:jrnlec:y:2017:v:6:p:163-169 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Mandelman, Federico S., 2016. "Labor market polarization and international macroeconomic dynamics," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 1-16.
    4. Levaggi, Rosella & Menoncin, Francesco, 2013. "Optimal dynamic tax evasion," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(11), pages 2157-2167.
    5. Michael Pickhardt & Jordi Sardà, "undated". "Cash, Hoarding and the Underground Economy," Working Papers 201282, Institute of Spatial and Housing Economics, Munster Universitary.
    6. Bruno Chiarini & Maria Ferrara & Elisabetta Marzano, 2016. "Investment Shocks, Tax Evasion and the Consumption Puzzle: A DSGE Analysis with Financial Frictions," CESifo Working Paper Series 6015, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Levaggi, Rosella & Menoncin, Francesco, 2016. "Optimal dynamic tax evasion: A portfolio approach," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 115-129.
    8. repec:wsi:apjorx:v:31:y:2014:i:03:n:s0217595914500171 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Rosella Levaggi & Francesco Menoncin, 2016. "Dynamic tax evasion with audits based on visible consumption," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 119(2), pages 131-146, October.
    10. Laszlo Gulyas & Tamás Mahr & Istvan Janos Toth, 2015. "Factors to Curb Tax Evasion: Evidences from the TAXSIM Agent-Based Simulation Model," IEHAS Discussion Papers 1521, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Underground economy; unreported economy; tax evasion; tax gap; non compliance; Federal income tax;

    JEL classification:

    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E26 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Informal Economy; Underground Economy
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • E41 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Demand for Money

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