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Where Has the Currency Gone? And Why? The Underground Economy and Personal Income Tax Evasion in the U.S., 1970-2008

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  • Cebula, Richard

Abstract

Unaccounted for currency in the U.S. is argued to reflect the presence of widespread income tax evasion. This empirical study seeks to identify determinants of the underground economy in the U.S. in the form of federal personal income tax evasion over the period 1970-2008. In this study, we use the most recent data available on personal income tax evasion, data that are derived from the General Currency Ratio Model and measured in the form of the ratio of unreported AGI (adjusted gross income) to reported AGI. Other studies of federal income tax evasion for the U.S. are dated and do not use data this current. It is found that personal income tax evasion was an increasing function of the maximum marginal federal personal income tax rate, the percentage of federal personal income tax returns characterized by itemized deductions, and unpopular military engagements, in this case, the War in Iraq, and a decreasing function of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (during its first two years of being implemented), the ratio of the tax free interest rate yield on high grade municipals to the interest rate yield on ten year Treasury notes (as a measure of the incentive effect of a better return to tax avoidance, which is legal), and higher audit rates of filed federal income tax returns (as a measure of risk from tax evasion) by IRS personnel.

Suggested Citation

  • Cebula, Richard, 2014. "Where Has the Currency Gone? And Why? The Underground Economy and Personal Income Tax Evasion in the U.S., 1970-2008," MPRA Paper 55284, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:55284
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Feige, Edgar L. & Cebula, Richard, 2011. "America’s unreported economy: measuring the size, growth and determinants of income tax evasion in the U.S," MPRA Paper 34781, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Gary C. Sanger & C. F. Sirmans & Geoffrey K. Turnbull, 1990. "The Effects of Tax Reform on Real Estate: Some Empirical Results," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 66(4), pages 409-424.
    3. Klepper, Steven & Nagin, Daniel & Spurr, Stephen, 1991. "Tax Rates, Tax Compliance, and the Reporting of Long-Term Capital Gains," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 46(2), pages 236-251.
    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.
    5. Attiat Ott & Sheila Vegari, 2003. "Tax reform: Chasing the elusive dream," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 31(3), pages 266-282, September.
    6. Cebula, Richard J. & Coombs, Christopher & Yang, Bill Z., 2009. "The Tax Reform Act of 1986: An Assessment in Terms of Tax Compliance Behavior," Economia Internazionale / International Economics, Camera di Commercio Industria Artigianato Agricoltura di Genova, vol. 62(2), pages 145-162.
    7. Alm, James & Jackson, Betty & McKee, Michael, 1992. "Institutional Uncertainty and Taxpayer Compliance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 1018-1026, September.
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    9. Spicer, Michael W. & Thomas, J. Everett, 1982. "Audit probabilities and the tax evasion decision: An experimental approach," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 241-245, September.
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    11. Baldry, Jonathan C, 1987. "Income Tax Evasion and the Tax Schedule: Some Experimental Results," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 42(3), pages 357-383.
    12. Richard J. Cebula, 2004. "Income Tax Evasion Revisited: The Impact of Interest Rate Yields on Tax-Free Municipal Bonds," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 71(2), pages 418-423, October.
    13. Caballe, Jordi & Panades, Judith, 1997. "Tax Evasion and Economic Growth," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 52(3-4), pages 318-340.
    14. Richard J Cebula & John P Cook & Tarek A Issa, 2007. "Economics, Wars and Scandals: Their Impacts on the US Public Approval Ratings of its President Over the Long Run," The IUP Journal of Applied Economics, IUP Publications, vol. 0(3), pages 31-39, May.
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    Keywords

    underground economy; tax evasion; tax rates; audit rates;

    JEL classification:

    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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