Why do underground reducing policies often fail their scope? Some answers from the Italian experience
Several European countries, facing a sizeable underground economy, often adopt underground reducing policies mainly based on incentives in the tax-benefit system. Since empirical evidence manifests a substantial failure of such policies, we construct a simple model to indicate the crucial aspects of this failure. To this end we consider a tax-evading firm, allocating work in the official and underground sector, where it is not taxed. With a view to reducing underground employment, the government may decide to launch an amnesty for past social security non-compliance, while providing fiscal incentives for new hiring in order to encourage a process of worker regularization. Allowing for endogenous enforcement, we find that the reputation of policy-makers in combating tax evasion proves crucial in determining the success of such a policy. Copyright 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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