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Tax Evasion, Inequality and Progressive Taxes: A Political Economy Perspective Joseph


  • Radhika Lahiri

    () (QUT)

  • Mark Phoon


This paper revisits the original Allingham and Sandmo (1972) framework with a view towards addressing the issue of tax compliance, and examining the political economy implications of tax evasion for progressivity in the tax structure. In so doing, we ‘start from scratch’ by constructing a simple extension of the basic Allingham and Sandmo construct that allows agents to initially decide whether to evade taxes or not. We then use a step-by-step model building procedure by taking both the basic model and its ‘evade-or-not’ counterpart towards a dynamic macroeconomic framework. We find that the 'evade or not' assumption has strikingly different and more realistic implications for the extent of evasion, and demonstrate that it is a more appropriate modeling strategy in the context of macroeconomic models. Furthermore, our numerical analysis suggests that the political outcome for the tax rate for a given level of inequality is conditional on whether there is a large or small or large extent of evasion in the economy, although changes in inequality do not matter for this outcome.

Suggested Citation

  • Radhika Lahiri & Mark Phoon, 2012. "Tax Evasion, Inequality and Progressive Taxes: A Political Economy Perspective Joseph," School of Economics and Finance Discussion Papers and Working Papers Series 296, School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology.
  • Handle: RePEc:qut:dpaper:296

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters,in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476, January.
    3. Jung, Young H. & Snow, Arthur & Trandel, Gregory A., 1994. "Tax evasion and the size of the underground economy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 391-402, July.
    4. Myles, Gareth D. & Naylor, Robin A., 1996. "A model of tax evasion with group conformity and social customs," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 49-66, April.
    5. Been-Lon Chen, 2003. "Tax Evasion in a Model of Endogenous Growth," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(2), pages 381-403, April.
    6. Gordon, James P. P., 1989. "Individual morality and reputation costs as deterrents to tax evasion," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 797-805, April.
    7. 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.
    8. Epple, Dennis & Romano, Richard E., 1996. "Ends against the middle: Determining public service provision when there are private alternatives," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 297-325, November.
    9. Sandmo, Agnar, 2005. "The Theory of Tax Evasion: A Retrospective View," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 58(4), pages 643-663, December.
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    More about this item


    Tax Evasion; Inequality; Political Economy;

    JEL classification:

    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General

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