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The Tax Gap: A Methodological Review

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  • Gemmell, Norman
  • Hasseldine, John

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Gemmell, Norman & Hasseldine, John, 2012. "The Tax Gap: A Methodological Review," Working Paper Series 2435, Victoria University of Wellington, Chair in Public Finance.
  • Handle: RePEc:vuw:vuwcpf:2435
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    File URL: http://researcharchive.vuw.ac.nz/handle/10063/2435
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Samreen Malik & Benedikt Mihm & Florian Timme, 2018. "An experimental analysis of tax avoidance policies," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 25(1), pages 200-239, February.
    2. Leopoldo Fergusson & Carlos Molina & Juan Felipe Riaño, 2019. "Consumers as VAT “Evaders†: Incidence, Social Bias, and Correlates in Colombia," Economía Journal, The Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association - LACEA, vol. 0(Spring 20), pages 21-67, April.
    3. Jean-François Brun & Maïmouna Diakite, 2016. "Tax Potential and Tax Effort: An Empirical Estimation for Non-resource Tax Revenue and VAT’s Revenue," Working Papers halshs-01332053, HAL.
    4. -, 2020. "Panorama Fiscal de América Latina y el Caribe, 2020: la política fiscal ante la crisis derivada de la pandemia de la enfermedad por coronavirus (COVID-19)," Libros y Documentos Institucionales, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), number 45730 edited by Cepal.
    5. Feige, Edgar L., 2015. "Reflections on the meaning and measurement of Unobserved Economies: What do we really know about the “Shadow Economy”?," MPRA Paper 68466, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Gemmell, Norman & Hasseldine, John, 2013. "Taxpayers' Behavioural Responses and Measures of Tax Compliance 'Gaps': A Critique," Working Paper Series 2853, Victoria University of Wellington, Chair in Public Finance.
    7. Jolanta Maria Ciak & Agnieszka Gruszczynska, 2019. "Goods and services tax in the tax systems of selected countries of the European Union: a case study," Ekonomia i Prawo, Uniwersytet Mikolaja Kopernika, vol. 18(3), pages 269-282, September.
    8. Karolina Konopczak, 2020. "Kwantyfikacja zmian luki VAT: podejście ekonometryczne," Gospodarka Narodowa. The Polish Journal of Economics, Warsaw School of Economics, issue 2, pages 25-42.
    9. Thorben C. Kundt & Florian Misch & Birger Nerré, 2017. "Re-assessing the merits of measuring tax evasion through business surveys: an application of the crosswise model," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 24(1), pages 112-133, February.
    10. Cabral, Ana Cinta G. & Gemmell, Norman, 2018. "Estimating Self-Employment Income-Gaps from Register and Survey Data: Evidence for New Zealand," Working Paper Series 7625, Victoria University of Wellington, Chair in Public Finance.

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    Keywords

    tax evasion; tax gap; behavioral responses;
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