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Tax Evasion and Optimal Environmental Taxes

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  • Liu, Antung Anthony

    () (Resources for the Future)

Abstract

This paper introduces a new argument to the debate about the role of environmental taxes in modern tax systems. Some environmental taxes, particularly taxes on gasoline or electricity, are more difficult to evade than taxes on labor or income. When the tax base is shifted in a revenue-neutral manner toward these environmental taxes, the result is a net reduction in the amount of tax evasion. Using a carbon tax as a motivating example, the "tax evasion effect" is shown to sharply reduce the welfare cost of controlling emissions. A simple computable general equilibrium model suggests that the impact of considering tax evasion can be large: costs are lowered by 28 percent in the United States, by 89 percent in China, and by 97 percent in India. In countries with high levels of pre-existing tax evasion, a carbon tax will pay for itself through improvements in the efficiency of the tax system.

Suggested Citation

  • Liu, Antung Anthony, 2012. "Tax Evasion and Optimal Environmental Taxes," Discussion Papers dp-12-37, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-12-37
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    File URL: http://www.rff.org/RFF/documents/RFF-DP-12-37.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Omar O. Chisari & Sebastián J. Miller, 2014. "Does Firm Heterogeneity Impact the Effectiveness of Carbon Taxes? Experiments in Argentina and Mexico," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 86256, Inter-American Development Bank.
    2. Omar O. Chisari & Sebastián J. Miller, 2014. "Does Firm Heterogeneity Impact the Effectiveness of Carbon Taxes? Experiments in Argentina and Mexico," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6606, Inter-American Development Bank.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    environmental regulation; Pigouvian tax; tax evasion; green tax swap; tax interactions;

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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