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Is It Really so Hard to Tax the Hard-to-Tax? The Context and Role of Presumptive Taxes

Author

Listed:
  • Richard M. Bird

    (International Tax Program, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto)

  • Sally Wallace

    () (Georgia State University)

Abstract

This paper is concerned with the extent to which “presumptive taxation” can be an effective tool to cope with what are commonly called the “hard-to-tax”. While the HTT category is seldom very clearly defined -- often, for example, it excludes those at the top of the power pyramid who manage to save themselves from the full fury of the taxman in accepted (or at least untouchable) ways -- it appears to encompass much of the so-called “informal” (“hidden” “shadow” “underground”) economy that is such a prominent feature of economic reality in many developing and transition countries. Although much of the discussion in this paper covers the use (and abuse) of presumptive taxes in general, our specific focus is on the special simplified tax regimes that have been put into place recently in a number of transitional countries, with special attention to Ukraine and Russia. We analyze the implications of these special regimes in terms of their impact on economic efficiency, equity, and overall tax administration and compliance. We conclude with a brief discussion of the critical problems of developing an “exit strategy” from such special regimes as well as some alternative policies that may prove more promising paths to taxing the HTT.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard M. Bird & Sally Wallace, 2003. "Is It Really so Hard to Tax the Hard-to-Tax? The Context and Role of Presumptive Taxes," International Tax Program Papers 0307, International Tax Program, Institute for International Business, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.
  • Handle: RePEc:ttp:itpwps:0307
    as

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    File URL: http://www-2.rotman.utoronto.ca/iib/ITP0307.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    2. Indira Rajaraman, 2003. "Tackling Agriculture in a Developing Country: A Proposal for India," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0322, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    3. Efraim Sadka & Vito Tanzi, 1992. "A Taxon Gross Assets of Enterprises as a Form of Presumptive Taxation," IMF Working Papers 92/16, International Monetary Fund.
    4. Parthasarathi Shome, 1992. "Trends and Future Directions in Tax Policy Reform; A Latin American Perspective," IMF Working Papers 92/43, International Monetary Fund.
    5. Friedrich Schneider, 2003. "The Size and Development of the Shadow Economy around the World and Relation to the Hard-to-Tax," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0324, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
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    7. Shome, Parthasarathi, 1999. "Taxation in Latin America: structural trends and impact of administration," Sede de la CEPAL en Santiago (Estudios e Investigaciones) 34658, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL).
    8. Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Mark Rider & Sally Wallace, 2008. "Tax Reform in Russia," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 2368, April.
    9. Parthasarathi Shome, 1999. "Taxation in Latin America; Structural Trends and Impact of Administration," IMF Working Papers 99/19, International Monetary Fund.
    10. Olivier P. Benon & Katherine Baer & Juan Toro R., 2002. "Improving Large Taxpayers' Compliance; A Review of Country Experience," IMF Occasional Papers 215, International Monetary Fund.
    11. Slemrod, Joel & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 2002. "Tax avoidance, evasion, and administration," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 22, pages 1423-1470 Elsevier.
    12. Dominik H. Enste & Friedrich Schneider, 2000. "Shadow Economies: Size, Causes, and Consequences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 77-114, March.
    13. Vito Tanzi & Parthasarathi Shome, 1993. "A Primer on Tax Evasion," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 40(4), pages 807-828, December.
    14. Khan, Mahmood Hasan, 2001. "Agricultural taxation in developing countries: a survey of issues and policy," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 24(3), March.
    15. James Alm and Joege Martinez Vazquez, 2003. ""Sizing" the problem of the Hard-to-Tax," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0321, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    16. Bird, Richard M., 1989. "Taxation in Papua New Guinea: Backwards to the future?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 17(8), pages 1145-1157, August.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Bird, Richard M. & Zolt, Eric M., 2011. "Dual Income Taxation: A Promising Path to Tax Reform for Developing Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(10), pages 1691-1703.
    2. Dagney Faulk & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Sally Wallace, 2007. "Using Human-Capital Theory to Establish a Potential-Income Tax," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 63(3), pages 415-435, September.
    3. Odd-Helge Fjeldstad & Mick Moore, 2007. "Taxation and State Building: Poor Countries in a Globalised World," CMI Working Papers 11, CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway.
    4. Richard M. Bird, 2009. "The Personal Income Tax," World Bank Other Operational Studies 11116, The World Bank.
    5. Shlomo Yitzhaki, 2007. "Cost-Benefit Analysis of Presumptive Taxation," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, pages 311-326.
    6. Richard M. Bird, 2008. "Tax Challenges Facing Developing Countries," Working Papers id:1618, eSocialSciences.
    7. Roy Bahl, 2014. "A retrospective on taxation in developing countries: Will the weakest link be strengthened?," Chapters,in: Taxation and Development: The Weakest Link?, chapter 12, pages 405-442 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    8. Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Richard M. Bird, 2011. "Value-Added Tax: Onward and Upward?," Chapters,in: The Elgar Guide to Tax Systems, chapter 6 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    9. Richard M. Bird, 2012. "Subnational Taxation in Large Emerging Countries: BRIC Plus One," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1201, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    10. Richard M Bird & Eric M Zolt, 2008. "Tax Policy in Emerging Countries," Environment and Planning C, , vol. 26(1), pages 73-86, February.
    11. Richard M. Bird, "undated". "VAT in Ukraine: An Interim Report," International Tax Program Papers 0503 Revised, International Tax Program, Institute for International Business, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.
    12. Bird, Richard M. & Zolt, Eric M., 2005. "The limited role of the personal income tax in developing countries," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(6), pages 928-946, December.
    13. James Alm & Pablo Saavedra & Edward Sennoga, 2007. "How Should Individuals Be Taxed?. Combining "Simplified", Income, and Payroll Taxes in Ukraine," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, pages 350-373.
    14. Bruhn, Miriam & Loeprick, Jan, 2014. "Small business tax policy, informality, and tax evasion -- evidence from Georgia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7010, The World Bank.
    15. Richard M. Bird, 2005. "Value-Added Taxes in Developing and Transitional Countries: Lessons and Questions," International Tax Program Papers 0505, International Tax Program, Institute for International Business, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.
    16. Richard M. Bird & Enid Slack, 2006. "The Role of the Property Tax in Financing Rural Local Governments in Developing Countries," International Tax Program Papers 0608, International Tax Program, Institute for International Business, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.
    17. Isidro Hernandez Rodríguez, 2011. "Tributación y desarrollo en perspectiva," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 13(24), pages 271-302, January-J.
    18. Paul Smoke, 2013. "Why Theory and Practice are Different: The Gap Between Principles and Reality in Subnational Revenue Systems," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1313, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    19. Fjeldstad, Odd-Helge, 2013. "Taxation and Development : a Review of Donor Support to Strengthen Tax Systems in Developing Countries," WIDER Working Paper Series 010, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Hard to tax; presumptive tax; VAT; HTT; tax administration; tax evasion; Ukraine; Russia;

    JEL classification:

    • O23 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Fiscal and Monetary Policy in Development
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • P31 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Socialist Enterprises and Their Transitions

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