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The Tax Gap: A Methodological Review

Listed author(s):
  • Gemmell, Norman
  • Hasseldine, John

The global economic crisis has highlighted the continuing problem of tax evasion. For tax agencies to respond, an important antecedent necessitates knowing the extent of the problem. This study is the first to comprehensively review recent research on the tax gap. Our primary contributions are two-fold. First we argue that the tax gap, as conventionally defined, is conceptually flawed because it fails to capture behavioral responses by taxpayers adequately. Our second contribution is to review methods for measuring the tax gap and compare empirical estimates. We suggest that many of the most trenchant criticisms of conventional tax gap measurement (and the ‘hidden economy’ measures that underlie them) leave only microdatabased measures of tax non-compliance as likely to deliver more reliable tax gap estimates. Even here, however, further work is required, on both conceptual and empirical aspects, before tax gaps suitable for policy analysis (e.g. implications for enforcement policy) are likely to be delivered.

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File URL: http://researcharchive.vuw.ac.nz/handle/10063/2435
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Paper provided by Victoria University of Wellington, Chair in Public Finance in its series Working Paper Series with number 2435.

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Date of creation: 2012
Handle: RePEc:vuw:vuwcpf:2435
Contact details of provider: Postal:
School of Accounting & Commercial Law, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington, New Zealand

Phone: +64 (4) 463 5775
Fax: +64 (4) 463 5076
Web page: http://www.victoria.ac.nz/sacl/about/chair-in-public-finance
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  1. David E. A. Giles, 1999. "Modelling the hidden economy and the tax-gap in New Zealand," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 621-640.
  2. Jonathan S. Feinstein, 1991. "An Econometric Analysis of Income Tax Evasion and its Detection," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(1), pages 14-35, Spring.
  3. 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.
  4. Christopher Bajada, 2003. "Business Cycle Properties of the Legitimate and Underground Economy in Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 79(247), pages 397-411, December.
  5. Giles, David E A, 1997. "Testing for Asymmetry in the Measured and Underground Business Cycles in New Zealand," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 73(222), pages 225-232, September.
  6. Mark Harris & Simon Feeny, 2003. "Habit persistence in effective tax rates," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(8), pages 951-958.
  7. Austan Goolsbee, 1999. "Evidence on the High-Income Laffer Curve from Six Decades of Tax Reform," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 30(2), pages 1-64.
  8. Giles, David E A, 1999. "Measuring the Hidden Economy: Implications for Econometric Modelling," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(456), pages 370-380, June.
  9. Mazur, Mark J. & Plumley, Alan H., 2007. "Understanding the Tax Gap1," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 60(3), pages 569-576, September.
  10. Gupta, Sanjay & Newberry, Kaye, 1997. "Determinants of the variability in corporate effective tax rates: Evidence from longitudinal data," Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 1-34.
  11. Bajada, Christopher, 1999. "Estimates of the Underground Economy in Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 75(231), pages 369-384, December.
  12. Christopher Bajada & Friedrich Schneider, 2005. "The Shadow Economies Of The Asia-Pacific," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(3), pages 379-401, October.
  13. Joel Slemrod, 2001. "A General Model of the Behavioral Response to Taxation," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 8(2), pages 119-128, March.
  14. Feige, Edgar L., 1990. "Defining and estimating underground and informal economies: The new institutional economics approach," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 18(7), pages 989-1002, July.
  15. Slemrod, Joel & Blumenthal, Marsha & Christian, Charles, 2001. "Taxpayer response to an increased probability of audit: evidence from a controlled experiment in Minnesota," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 455-483, March.
  16. Feige, Edgar L, 1994. "The Underground Economy and the Currency Enigma," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 49(Supplemen), pages 119-136.
  17. Martin Feldstein, 1999. "Tax Avoidance And The Deadweight Loss Of The Income Tax," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 674-680, November.
  18. Feinstein, Jonathan S, 1999. "Approaches for Estimating Noncompliance: Examples from Federal Taxation in the United States," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(456), pages 360-369, June.
  19. Richard Cebula & Chris Paul, 2000. "The pedagogy of tax evasion: Its extent and its determinants," International Advances in Economic Research, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 6(4), pages 710-721, November.
  20. Trevor Breusch, 2005. "Australia's Cash Economy: Are the estimates credible?," Macroeconomics 0509025, EconWPA, revised 23 Sep 2005.
  21. Trevor Breusch, 2005. "Australia's Cash Economy: Are the Estimates Credible?," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 81(255), pages 394-403, December.
  22. Trevor Breusch, 2005. "Estimating the Underground Economy using MIMIC Models," Econometrics 0507003, EconWPA, revised 25 Jul 2005.
  23. repec:kap:iaecre:v:6:y:2000:i:4:p:710-721 is not listed on IDEAS
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