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The Dynamic Effects of Tax Audits

Author

Listed:
  • Advani, Arun

    (University of Warwick ; the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) ; the Tax Administration Research Center (TARC) ; and the Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE))

  • Elming, William

    (IFS and TARC at the time of involvement in this work)

  • Shaw, Jonathan

    (Financial Conduct Authority)

Abstract

Understanding causes of and solutions to non-compliance is important for a tax authority. In this paper we study how and why audits affect reported tax in the years after audit – the dynamic effect – for individual income taxpayers. We exploit data from a random audit program covering more than 53,000 income tax self assessment returns in the UK, combined with data on the population of tax filers between 1999 and 2012. We first document that there is substantial non-compliance in this population. One in three filers underreports the tax owed. Third party information on an income source does not predict whether a taxpayer is non-compliant on that income source, though it does predict the extent of underreporting. Using the random nature of the audits, we provide evidence of dynamic effects. Audits raise reported tax liabilities for at least five years after audit, implying an additional yield 1.5 times the direct revenue raised from the audit. The magnitude of the impact falls over time, and this decline is faster for less autocorrelated income sources. Taking an event study approach, we further show that the change in reporting behaviour comes only from those found to have made errors in their tax report. Finally, using an extension of the Allingham-Sandmo (1972) model, we show that these results are best explained by audits providing the tax authority with information, which then constrains taxpayers’ ability to misreport.

Suggested Citation

  • Advani, Arun & Elming, William & Shaw, Jonathan, 2019. "The Dynamic Effects of Tax Audits," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1198, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:wrk:warwec:1198
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mittone, Luigi, 2006. "Dynamic behaviour in tax evasion: An experimental approach," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 35(5), pages 813-835, October.
    2. Kastlunger, Barbara & Kirchler, Erich & Mittone, Luigi & Pitters, Julia, 2009. "Sequences of audits, tax compliance, and taxpaying strategies," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 405-418, June.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Marie Bjørneby & Annette Alstadsæter & Kjetil Telle, 2018. "Collusive Tax Evasion by Employers and Employees: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment in Norway," CESifo Working Paper Series 7381, CESifo.
    2. Pomeranz, Dina D. & Vila-Belda, José, 2019. "Taking State-Capacity Research to the Field: Insights from Collaborations with Tax Authorities," CEPR Discussion Papers 13688, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Knut Løyland & Oddbjørn Raaum & Gaute Torsvik & Arnstein Øvrum, 2019. "Compliance effects of risk-based tax audits," CESifo Working Paper Series 7616, CESifo.
    4. Lopez-Luzuriaga, Andrea & Scartascini, Carlos, 2019. "Compliance spillovers across taxes: The role of penalties and detection," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 518-534.
    5. Sebastian Beer & Matthias Kasper & Erich Kirchler & Brian Erard, 2019. "Do Audits Deter or Provoke Future Tax Noncompliance? Evidence on Self-employed Taxpayers," IMF Working Papers 2019/223, International Monetary Fund.
    6. Gamannossi degl’Innocenti, Duccio & Rablen, Matthew D., 2020. "Tax evasion on a social network," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 169(C), pages 79-91.
    7. Shafik Hebous & Zhiyang Jia & Knut Løyland & Thor Olav Thoresen & Arnstein Øvrum, 2020. "Do Audits Improve Future Tax Compliance in the Absence of Penalties? Evidence from Random Audits in Norway," CESifo Working Paper Series 8480, CESifo.
    8. Shafik Hebous & Zhiyang Jia & Knut Løyland & Thor Olav Thoresen & Arnstein Øvrum, 2020. "Do Audits Improve Future Tax Compliance in the Absence of Penalties? Evidence from Random Audits in Norway," CESifo Working Paper Series 8480, CESifo.
    9. Bernasconi, Michele & Bernhofer, Juliana, 2020. "Catch Me If You Can: Testing the reduction of compound lotteries axiom in a tax compliance experiment," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 84(C).
    10. Advani, Arun, 2020. "Who does and doesn’t pay taxes?," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1321, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    11. Christos Kotsogiannis & Xavier Mateos-Planas, 2019. "Tax Evasion as Contingent Debt," Discussion Papers 1903, Centre for Macroeconomics (CFM).
    12. Laura L. Leets & Amber Sprenger & Robert O. Hartman & Nicholas W. Kohn & Juli Simon Thomas & Chrissy T. Vu & Sandi Aguirre & Sanith Wijesinghe, 2020. "Effectiveness of nudges on small business tax compliance behavior," Journal of Behavioral Public Administration, Center for Experimental and Behavioral Public Administration, vol. 3(2).
    13. Kotsogiannis, Christos & Mateos-Planas, Xavier, 2019. "Tax evasion as contingent debt," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 100941, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    14. Matthias Kasper & James Alm, 2020. "Audits, Audit Effectiveness, and Post-audit Tax Compliance," Working Papers 2010, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    15. Riedel, Nadine & Strohmaier, Kristina & Lediga, Collen, 2019. "Spatial Tax Enforcement Spillovers: Evidence from South Africa," VfS Annual Conference 2019 (Leipzig): 30 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall - Democracy and Market Economy 203500, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    16. Alex Raskolnikov, 2020. "Criminal Deterrence: A Review of the Missing Literature," Supreme Court Economic Review, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(1), pages 1-59.
    17. John Guyton & Kara Leibel & Dayanand S. Manoli & Ankur Patel & Mark Payne & Brenda Schafer, 2018. "The Effects of EITC Correspondence Audits on Low-Income Earners," NBER Working Papers 24465, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    tax audits ; tax revenue ; tax reporting decisions ; income tax ; self assessment ; HMRC;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D04 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Policy: Formulation; Implementation; Evaluation
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • H83 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - Public Administration

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