IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/tul/wpaper/1403.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Does an Uncertain Tax System Encourage "Aggressive Tax Planning"?

Author

Listed:
  • James Alm

    () (Department of Economics, Tulane University)

Abstract

"Aggressive tax planning" (ATP) is typically characterized as a tax scheme that reduces the effective tax rate of a particular type of income to a level below the one sought by fiscal policy for this income. One motivation often suggested for its use is the uncertainty in tax liabilities introduced by a complicated and ever changing tax system. In this paper, I examine the impact of an uncertainty on the use of such tax schemes; by implication, I also examine how a simpler and more stable tax system that reduced this uncertainty might affect ATP. In this analysis, I draw upon some of my own work on tax avoidance and tax evasion, and then I extend this work to the related but separate area of ATP. Importantly, I introduce and model both individual and group motivations, incorporating insights from behavioral economics in these new analyses. Taxpayers are clearly motivated in part by narrowly defined financial considerations as shaped by the tax, audit, and penalty rates that they face, all of which I classify as individual motivations. However, individuals are also often influenced by many other factors that go beyond self-interest and that have as their main foundation some aspects of social norms, morality, altruism, fairness, or the like. In their entirety, I lump these factors together as group motivations, and I argue that they are shaped by the dynamic social context in which, and the process by which, decisions emerge. My main conclusion is that there is much in theory to suggest that uncertainty leads to more use of ATP, especially when both individual and group motivations are considered.

Suggested Citation

  • James Alm, 2014. "Does an Uncertain Tax System Encourage "Aggressive Tax Planning"?," Working Papers 1403, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tul:wpaper:1403
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://econ.tulane.edu/RePEc/pdf/tul1403.pdf
    File Function: First Version, February 2014
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Lars P. Feld & Bruno S. Frey, 2002. "Trust breeds trust: How taxpayers are treated," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 3(2), pages 87-99, July.
    2. Kirchler, Erich & Hoelzl, Erik & Wahl, Ingrid, 2008. "Enforced versus voluntary tax compliance: The "slippery slope" framework," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 210-225, April.
    3. Alm, James & Jackson, Betty & McKee, Michael, 1992. "Institutional Uncertainty and Taxpayer Compliance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 1018-1026, September.
    4. James Alm & Benno Torgler, 2011. "Do Ethics Matter? Tax Compliance and Morality," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 101(4), pages 635-651, July.
    5. Alm, James & Cherry, Todd & Jones, Michael & McKee, Michael, 2010. "Taxpayer information assistance services and tax compliance behavior," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 577-586, August.
    6. Kirchler,Erich, 2007. "The Economic Psychology of Tax Behaviour," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521876742.
    7. Erard, Brian & Feinstein, Jonathan S, 1994. "The Role of Moral Sentiments and Audit Perceptions in Tax Compliance," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 49(Supplemen), pages 70-89.
    8. Benno Torgler & Markus Schaffner & Alison Macintyre, 2007. "Tax Compliance, Tax Morale and Governance Quality," CREMA Working Paper Series 2007-17, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    9. Joel Slemrod, 1989. "The Return To Tax Simplification: an Econometric Analysis," Public Finance Review, , vol. 17(1), pages 3-27, January.
    10. Alm, James, 1988. "Uncertain Tax Policies, Individual Behavior, and Welfare," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 237-245, March.
    11. Calvet Christian, Roberta & Alm, James, 2014. "Empathy, sympathy, and tax compliance," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 62-82.
    12. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1982. "Utilitarianism and horizontal equity : The case for random taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 1-33, June.
    13. Benno Torgler, 2007. "Tax Compliance and Tax Morale," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 4096.
    14. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    15. Stephan Muehlbacher & Erich Kirchler & Herbert Schwarzenberger, 2011. "Voluntary versus enforced tax compliance: empirical evidence for the “slippery slope” framework," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 89-97, August.
    16. Reinganum, Jennifer F & Wilde, Louis L, 1991. "Equilibrium Enforcement and Compliance in the Presence of Tax Practitioners," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(1), pages 163-181, Spring.
    17. James Alm & Erich Kirchler & Stephan Muehlbacher, 2012. "Combining Psychology and Economics in the Analysis of Compliance: From Enforcement to Cooperation," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 133-152, September.
    18. 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.
    19. Erard, Brian, 1993. "Taxation with representation : An analysis of the role of tax practitioners in tax compliance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 163-197, September.
    20. Nigar Hashimzade & Gareth D. Myles & Binh Tran-Nam, 2013. "Applications Of Behavioural Economics To Tax Evasion," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(5), pages 941-977, December.
    21. Brian Erard & Jonathan Feinstein, 1994. "The Role of Moral Sentiments and Audit Perceptions in Tax Compliance," Carleton Industrial Organization Research Unit (CIORU) 94-03, Carleton University, Department of Economics.
    22. James Alm, 2012. "Measuring, explaining, and controlling tax evasion: lessons from theory, experiments, and field studies," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 19(1), pages 54-77, February.
    23. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
    24. Alm, James & McClelland, Gary H & Schulze, William D, 1999. "Changing the Social Norm of Tax Compliance by Voting," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 141-171.
    25. Weiss, Laurence, 1976. "The Desirability of Cheating Incentives and Randomness in the Optimal Income Tax," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(6), pages 1343-1352, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Keen, Michael & Slemrod, Joel, 2017. "Optimal tax administration," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 133-142.
    2. repec:kap:itaxpf:v:25:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10797-017-9448-1 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    tax avoidance; tax evasion; uncertainty; risk; behavioral economics; experimental economics;

    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:tul:wpaper:1403. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Rodrigo Aranda Balcazar). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/detulus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.