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Mobility, Competition, and the Distributional Effects of Tax Evasion

Author

Listed:
  • James Alm

    () (Department of Economics, Tulane University)

  • Edward B. Sennoga

    () (Uganda Field Office, African Development Bank)

Abstract

The standard assumption underlying the incidence of tax evasion is that the beneficiaries are those who successfully evade their taxes. However, a general equilibrium process of adjustment should occur through changes in the relative prices of both commodities and factors of production as resources move into and out of the relevant activities, and these changes should tend to reduce any initial benefit from evasion. In this paper we analyze these incidence effects, using a computable general equilibrium model of an economy with a formal (and taxed) sector and an informal (and untaxed) sector, in order to examine how much of the initial benefit of income tax evasion is retained by the evaders and how much is shifted via factor and commodity price changes stemming from mobility. Our simulation results show that the household that successfully evades its income tax liabilities has a post-evasion welfare that is only slightly higher than its post-tax welfare if it had fully complied with taxes. Further, while this household keeps some of its initial increase in welfare, a large percentage of this initial gain is competed away as a result of mobility that reflects competition and entry into the informal sector. Consequently, the evading household benefits only marginally from successful income tax evasion, and this advantage diminishes with mobility via competition/entry in the informal sector.

Suggested Citation

  • James Alm & Edward B. Sennoga, 2011. "Mobility, Competition, and the Distributional Effects of Tax Evasion," Working Papers 1108, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tul:wpaper:1108
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    File URL: http://repec.tulane.edu/RePEc/pdf/tul1108.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Schneider, Friedrich, 2005. "Shadow economies around the world: what do we really know?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 598-642, September.
    2. Arnold C. Harberger, 1962. "The Incidence of the Corporation Income Tax," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 215-215.
    3. Kesselman, Jonathan R., 1989. "Income tax evasion : An intersectoral analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 137-182, March.
    4. Friedrich Schneider, 2005. "Shadow Economies of 145 Countries all over the World: What Do We Really Know?," CREMA Working Paper Series 2005-13, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    5. Alm, James & Bahl, Roy & Murray, Matthew N, 1991. "Tax Base Erosion in Developing Countries," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(4), pages 849-872, July.
    6. 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.
    7. Watson, Harry, 1985. "Tax evasion and labor markets," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 231-246, July.
    8. Thalmann, Philippe, 1992. "Factor taxes and evasion in general equilibrium," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 259-283, June.
    9. Patrick J. Kehoe & Timothy J. Kehoe, 1994. "A primer on static applied general equilibrium models," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Spr, pages 2-16.
    10. Shah, Anwar & Whalley, John, 1991. "Tax Incidence Analysis of Developing Countries: An Alternative View," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 5(3), pages 535-552, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Doerrenberg, Philipp & Duncan, Denvil, 2014. "Tax Incidence in the Presence of Tax Evasion," IZA Discussion Papers 8137, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Branko Milanovic & Sean Higgins & Nora Lustig & Whitney Ruble & Timothy M. Smeeding, 2016. "Comparing the Incidence of Taxes and Social Spending in Brazil and the United States," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 62, pages 22-46, August.
    3. James Alm, 2014. "Tax evasion, labor market effects, and income distribution," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 1-91, October.
    4. James Alm, 2017. "Is Economics Useful for Public Policy?," Working Papers 1702, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    5. Doerrenberg, Philipp & Duncan, Denvil & Zeppenfeld, Christopher, 2015. "Circumstantial risk: Impact of future tax evasion and labor supply opportunities on risk exposure," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 85-100.
    6. repec:eee:dyncon:v:87:y:2018:i:c:p:152-172 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    tax evasion; computable general equilibrium model; social accounting matrix;

    JEL classification:

    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence

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