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Asymmetric Responses of the Underground Economy to Tax Changes: Evidence From New Zealand Data

  • David E. A. Giles

    ()

  • Gugsa T. Werkneh

    ()

  • Betty J. Johnson

    ()

We consider the relationship between taxes and the size of the underground economy in New Zealand. Previous studies indicate that a positive relationship exists in this and certain other countries. We address the following question: "Is the response of the underground economy to an increase in taxes the same as its response to a decrease in taxes?" To answer this question we modify an existing methodology for testing for both "timing symmetry" and "pattern symmetry". Paying careful attention to the non-stationarity and cointegration of our annual data, we test for the presence of such symmetry in the tax-evasion relationship for New Zealand. We find that although the effect on the underground economy of an upward movement in the effective tax rate is numerically greater than that of a downward tax movement, this difference is not statistically significant in either the short-run or the long-run. Elasticity and multiplier calculations allow us to quantify some of the effects of changes in taxation policy on hidden output.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Victoria in its series Econometrics Working Papers with number 9911.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: 11 Aug 1999
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:vic:vicewp:9911
Note: ISSN 1485-6441
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  1. Bacon, Robert W., 1991. "Rockets and feathers: the asymmetric speed of adjustment of UK retail gasoline prices to cost changes," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 211-218, July.
  2. Severin Borenstein & A. Colin Cameron, 1992. "Do Gasoline Prices Respond Asymmetrically to Crude Oil Price Changes?," NBER Working Papers 4138, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Watson, Harry, 1985. "Tax evasion and labor markets," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 231-246, July.
  4. David E. A. Giles, 1998. "Modelling the Tax Compliance Profiles of New Zealand Firms: Evidence from Audit Records," Econometrics Working Papers 9803, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.
  5. Kesselman, Jonathan R., 1989. "Income tax evasion : An intersectoral analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 137-182, March.
  6. David E. A. Giles & Betty J. Johnson, 1999. "Taxes, Risk-Aversion, and the Size of the Underground Economy: A Nonparametric Analysis With New Zealand Data," Econometrics Working Papers 9910, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.
  7. Crane, Steven E & Nourzad, Farrokh, 1987. "On the Treatment of Income Tax Rates in Empirical Analysis of Tax Evasion," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(3), pages 338-48.
  8. David Giles, 1999. "The rise and fall of the New Zealand underground economy: are the responses symmetric?," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(3), pages 185-189.
  9. 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.
  10. Pencavel, John H., 1979. "A note on income tax evasion, labor supply, and nonlinear tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 115-124, August.
  11. Trandel, Greg & Snow, Arthur, 1999. "Progressive income taxation and the underground economy," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 217-222, February.
  12. David E. A. Giles, 1998. "Modelling the Hidden Economy and the Tax-Gap in New Zealand," Econometrics Working Papers 9810, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.
  13. Dickey, David A & Fuller, Wayne A, 1981. "Likelihood Ratio Statistics for Autoregressive Time Series with a Unit Root," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 1057-72, June.
  14. Kwiatkowski, D. & Phillips, P.C.B. & Schmidt, P., 1990. "Testing the Null Hypothesis of Stationarity Against the Alternative of Unit Root : How Sure are we that Economic Time Series have a Unit Root?," Papers 8905, Michigan State - Econometrics and Economic Theory.
  15. Dolado, Juan J & Jenkinson, Tim & Sosvilla-Rivero, Simon, 1990. " Cointegration and Unit Roots," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(3), pages 249-73.
  16. Clotfelter, Charles T, 1983. "Tax Evasion and Tax Rates: An Analysis of Individual Returns," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(3), pages 363-73, August.
  17. David E. A. Giles, & Patrick J. Caragata, 1999. "The Learning Path of the Hidden Economy: The Tax Burden and Tax Evasion in New Zealand," Econometrics Working Papers 9904, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.
  18. Patrick J. Caragata, & David E. A. Giles, 1998. "Simulating the Relationship Between the Hidden Economy and the Tax Level and Tax Mix in New Zealand," Econometrics Working Papers 9804, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.
  19. Koskela, Erkki, 1983. "A note on progression, penalty schemes and tax evasion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 127-133, October.
  20. Leybourne, S J & McCabe, B P M, 1994. "A Simple Test for Cointegration," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 56(1), pages 97-103, February.
  21. Schneider, Friedrich, 1994. "Can the Shadow Economy Be Reduced through Major Tax Reforms? An Empirical Investigation for Austria," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 49(Supplemen), pages 137-52.
  22. David Giles, 1997. "Causality between the measured and underground economies in New Zealand," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(1), pages 63-67.
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