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Measuring, Explaining, and Controlling Tax Evasion: Lessons from Theory, Experiments, and Field Studies

  • James Alm

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Tulane University)

In this paper, I assess what we have learned about tax evasion since Michael Allingham and Agnar Sandmo launched the modern analysis of tax evasion in 1972. I focus on three specific questions and the answers to these questions that have emerged over the years. First, how do we measure the extent of evasion? Second, how can we explain these patterns of behavior? Third, how can we use these insights to control evasion? In the process, I illustrate my own answers to these questions by highlighting various specific examples of research. My main conclusion is that we have learned many things but that we also still have many gaps in our understanding of how to measure, explain, and control tax evasion. I also give some suggestions – and some predictions – about where promising avenues of future research may lie.

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File URL: http://econ.tulane.edu/RePEc/pdf/tul1213.pdf
File Function: First Version, 2012
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Paper provided by Tulane University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1213.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tul:wpaper:1213
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Web page: http://econ.tulane.edu

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  1. Sanjit Dhami & Ali al-Nowaihi, 2005. "Why Do People Pay Taxes? Prospect Theory Versus Expected Utility Theory," Discussion Papers in Economics 05/23, Department of Economics, University of Leicester, revised Aug 2006.
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  3. 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.
  4. Alm, James & Bahl, Roy & Murray, Matthew N, 1990. "Tax Structure and Tax Compliance," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(4), pages 603-13, November.
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  7. Alm, James & Jackson, Betty R. & McKee, Michael, 1993. "Fiscal exchange, collective decision institutions, and tax compliance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 285-303, December.
  8. Arthur Snow & Ronald S. Warren, 2005. "Ambiguity about Audit Probability, Tax Compliance, and Taxpayer Welfare," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(4), pages 865-871, October.
  9. 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.
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  12. Gruber, Jon & Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "The elasticity of taxable income: evidence and implications," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 1-32, April.
  13. Alm, James & Melnik, Mikhail I., 2010. "Do Ebay Sellers Comply With State Sales Taxes?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 63(2), pages 215-36, June.
  14. Kim, Youngse, 2003. "Income distribution and equilibrium multiplicity in a stigma-based model of tax evasion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(7-8), pages 1591-1616, August.
  15. Traxler, Christian, 2010. "Social norms and conditional cooperative taxpayers," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 89-103, March.
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  17. Friedrich Schneider & Dominik Enste, 2000. "Shadow Economies Around the World; Size, Causes, and Consequences," IMF Working Papers 00/26, International Monetary Fund.
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  19. J. Vernon Henderson & Adam Storeygard & David N. Weil, 2009. "Measuring Economic Growth from Outer Space," NBER Working Papers 15199, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. 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.
  21. James Alm & Todd Cherry & Michael Jones & Michael McKee, 2011. "Taxpayer Information Assistance Services and Tax Compliance Behavior," Working Papers 1101, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
  22. 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.
  23. Becker, Winfried & Buchner, Heinz-Jurgen & Sleeking, Simon, 1987. "The impact of public transfer expenditures on tax evasion : An experimental approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 243-252, November.
  24. George A. Akerlof, 2009. "How Human Psychology Drives the Economy and Why It Matters," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1175-1175.
  25. Fisher, Ronald C. & Goddeeris, John H. & Young, James C., 1989. "Participation in Tax Amnesties: The Individual Income Tax," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 42(1), pages 15-27, March.
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  27. Iyer, Govind S. & Reckers, Philip M.J. & Sanders, Debra L., 2010. "Increasing Tax Compliance In Washington State: A Field Experiment," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 63(1), pages 7-32, March.
  28. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  29. 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.
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  32. Alm, James & Jacobson, Sarah, 2007. "Using Laboratory Experimentsin Public Economics," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 60(1), pages 129-52, March.
  33. Friedland, Nehemiah & Maital, Shlomo & Rutenberg, Aryeh, 1978. "A simulation study of income tax evasion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 107-116, August.
  34. Gerxhani, Klarita & Schram, Arthur, 2006. "Tax evasion and income source: A comparative experimental study," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 402-422, June.
  35. James Alm & Abel Embaye, 2013. "Using Dynamic Panel Methods to Estimate Shadow Economies Around the World, 1984-2006," Working Papers 1303, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
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  37. Henrik J. Kleven & Martin B. Knudsen & Claus T. Kreiner & Søren Pedersen & Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "Unwilling or Unable to Cheat? Evidence from a Randomized Tax Audit Experiment in Denmark," NBER Working Papers 15769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  38. Joel Slemrod & Caroline Weber, 2012. "Evidence of the invisible: toward a credibility revolution in the empirical analysis of tax evasion and the informal economy," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 25-53, February.
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  43. Jeffrey A. Dubin, 2007. "Criminal Investigation Enforcement Activities and Taxpayer Noncompliance," Public Finance Review, , vol. 35(4), pages 500-529, July.
  44. Alm, James & Bahl, Roy & Murray, Matthew N., 1993. "Audit selection and income tax underreporting in the tax compliance game," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 1-33, October.
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