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The Social Multiplier of Tax Evasion: Evidence from Italian Audit Data

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  • Roberto Galbiati

    ()

  • Giulio Zanella

    ()

Abstract

We investigate the role of individual interdependencies in tax evasion, arising from congestion on the auditing resources available to local tax authorities. Identification exploits a novel method based on comparison of the variance of individual behavior — concealed income in this case — at different levels of aggregation, within different subpopulations (Graham, 2008). This method allows us to mitigate some of the most severe problems that surround identification of neighbourhood effects, at the cost of identifying restrictions that arise naturally from our model. We employ a unique dataset of tax audits to about 75,000 self-employed individuals in Italy. Surprisingly, this sample is not statistically different from a random sample of taxpayers. We find a social multiplier of about 3, meaning that the equilibrium response to a shock that induces an exogenous variation in mean concealed income — such as tougher or looser tax enforcement — is about three times the initial average response

Suggested Citation

  • Roberto Galbiati & Giulio Zanella, 2008. "The Social Multiplier of Tax Evasion: Evidence from Italian Audit Data," Department of Economics University of Siena 539, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  • Handle: RePEc:usi:wpaper:539
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    File URL: http://repec.deps.unisi.it/quaderni/539.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    7. Sah, Raaj K, 1991. "Social Osmosis and Patterns of Crime," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(6), pages 1272-1295, December.
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    13. Joel Slemrod, 2007. "Cheating Ourselves: The Economics of Tax Evasion," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(1), pages 25-48, Winter.
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    17. Durlauf, Steven N., 2004. "Neighborhood effects," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics,in: J. V. Henderson & J. F. Thisse (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 50, pages 2173-2242 Elsevier.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gerlinde Fellner & Rupert Sausgruber & Christian Traxler, 2009. "Testing Enforcement Strategies in the Field: Legal Threat, Moral Appeal and Social Information," Working Papers 2009-23, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    social interactions; social multiplier; tax evasion; tax compliance; excess variance;

    JEL classification:

    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • C31 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models; Quantile Regressions; Social Interaction Models
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • Z19 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Other

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