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Institutions, Corruption and Tax Evasion in the Unofficial Economy

Author

Listed:
  • Douglas Hibbs

    (Göteborg University)

  • Violeta Piculescu

    (Göteborg University)

Abstract

In this paper we propose a model of how institutional benefits, taxation and government regulations affect the productive activity of private enterprises. We consider an environment in which public officials enforcing tax and regulatory obligations are potentially corruptible, and markets for corruption may therefore arise that give firms the option of producing unofficially and evading taxes and regulations. By contrast to some previous studies that view corruption and bribery as forces driving firms out of official production into the underground economy, our model features the idea that the `grabbing hands' of corrupt bureaucrats may alternatively serve as `helping hands' allowing firms to exploit profitable opportunities in the unofficial sector. And contrary to a traditional view maintaining that high tax rates are intrinsically a major cause of large shadow economies, our model implies that incentives to evade taxation and produce underground depend on statutory tax rates relative to firm-specific thresholds of tax toleration. Tax toleration is determined, among other things, by firm-specific institutional benefits available to official producers and the costs of corruption required to produce unofficially. Some core predictions of the model concerning the determinants of tax toleration and the relative size of unofficial activity and tax evasion receive broad support from empirical analyses based on firm-level data from the World Business Environment Surveys sponsored by the World Bank.

Suggested Citation

  • Douglas Hibbs & Violeta Piculescu, 2005. "Institutions, Corruption and Tax Evasion in the Unofficial Economy," Public Economics 0508003, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwppe:0508003
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 30
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    File URL: https://econwpa.ub.uni-muenchen.de/econ-wp/pe/papers/0508/0508003.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Friedrich Schneider & Robert Klinglmair, 2004. "Shadow economies around the world: what do we know?," Economics working papers 2004-03, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    2. Johnson, Simon & Kaufmann, Daniel & McMillan, John & Woodruff, Christopher, 2000. "Why do firms hide? Bribes and unofficial activity after communism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 495-520, June.
    3. Jakob Svensson, 2003. "Who Must Pay Bribes and How Much? Evidence from a Cross Section of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 207-230.
    4. Loayza, Norman V., 1996. "The economics of the informal sector: a simple model and some empirical evidence from Latin America," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 129-162, December.
    5. Simon Johnson & John McMillan, 2002. "Courts and Relational Contracts," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(1), pages 221-277, April.
    6. Dominik H. Enste & Friedrich Schneider, 2000. "Shadow Economies: Size, Causes, and Consequences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 77-114, March.
    7. repec:hrv:faseco:30728045 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Mookherjee, Dilip & Png, I P L, 1995. "Corruptible Law Enforcers: How Should They Be Compensated?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(428), pages 145-159, January.
    9. Johnson, Simon & Kaufmann, Daniel & Zoido-Lobaton, Pablo, 1998. "Regulatory Discretion and the Unofficial Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 387-392, May.
    10. Pranab Bardhan, 1997. "Corruption and Development: A Review of Issues," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(3), pages 1320-1346, September.
    11. Jain, Arvind K, 2001. " Corruption: A Review," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(1), pages 71-121, February.
    12. Jay Pil Choi & Marcel Thum, 2005. "Corruption And The Shadow Economy," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 46(3), pages 817-836, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Bologna, Jamie, 2016. "The effect of informal employment and corruption on income levels in Brazil," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 657-695.
    2. Andreas Buehn & Friedrich Schneider, 2012. "Corruption and the shadow economy: like oil and vinegar, like water and fire?," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 19(1), pages 172-194, February.
    3. Axel Dreher & Friedrich Schneider, 2010. "Corruption and the shadow economy: an empirical analysis," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 144(1), pages 215-238, July.
    4. Francisco Azpitarte, 2011. "Can corruption constrain the size of governments?," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 1-14, August.
    5. Clara Delavallade, 2012. "What Drives Corruption? Evidence from North African Firms," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 21(4), pages 499-547, August.
    6. repec:bla:rdevec:v:22:y:2018:i:4:p:1729-1743 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Colin C. Williams & Friedrich Schneider, 2016. "Measuring the Global Shadow Economy," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 16551.
    8. Hazans, Mihails, 2011. "What Explains Prevalence of Informal Employment in European Countries: The Role of Labor Institutions, Governance, Immigrants, and Growth," IZA Discussion Papers 5872, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Sokolovskyi, Dmytro & Sokolovska, Olena, 2016. "Tax burden optimization on economic agents by modeling interaction in the taxation system," MPRA Paper 71110, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 05 May 2016.
    10. Jellal, Mohamed & Bouzahzah, Mohamed, 2012. "Rentes et corruption au maroc théorie et evidence
      [Morocco rents and corruption theory and evidence]
      ," MPRA Paper 38750, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Robert Gillanders & Sinikka Parviainen, 2018. "Corruption and the shadow economy at the regional level," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(4), pages 1729-1743, November.
    12. Bame-Aldred, Charles W. & Cullen, John B. & Martin, Kelly D. & Parboteeah, K. Praveen, 2013. "National culture and firm-level tax evasion," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 390-396.
    13. Soldatos, Gerasimos T., 2014. "Bureaucracy, Underground Activities, and Fluctuations," MPRA Paper 60858, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    institutions corruption tax evasion unofficial economy underground economy;

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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