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Sticks and carrots

Cowell, Frank (2003) Sticks and carrots. Distributional Analysis Research Programme; DARP 68, 68. Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, London School of Economics and Political Science, London.

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Abstract

The tax-payer-as-gambler (TAG) model of tax non-compliance is the classic vehicle for providing some simple insights. Under fairly general conditions this model supports the following four propositions: (1) if the rate of return to evasion is positive everyone evades tax; (2) people with higher risk-aversion tend to evade less; (3) people with higher personal income tend to evade more; (4) increasing any of the standard tax-enforcement parameters (the probability of audit, the proportional surcharge on evaded tax and the tax rate) will reduce the amount of concealed income. Not all of these TAG model predictions seem intuitively reasonable, nor are they all borne out by empirical evidence. There are three principal intellectual routes for a more satisfactory approach: • A re-examination of the underlying model of taxpayer motivation. This encompasses relaxation of the expected-utility assumption, introduction of time into the modeling framework and an extension of the range of arguments of the utility function. • A revision of the model of interaction between the taxpayer and the tax authority. This allows the introduction of an explicit strategic interaction encapsulated in the auditing relationship. Neither the models with precommitment or those without precommitment fully capture the relevant features of the noncompliance problem. Both neglect the problem of “ghosts”. • The role of the modeling of firms. This route is relatively neglected in the theoretical and empirical literature. An elementary treatment of the problem suggests that it has potential as an exploratory tool and as a guide to policy makers.

Item Type: Monograph (Discussion Paper)
Official URL: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/
Additional Information: © 2003 Frank A Cowell
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Journal of Economic Literature Classification System: H - Public Economics > H2 - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
H - Public Economics > H3 - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents
Sets: Collections > Economists Online
Departments > Economics
Research centres and groups > Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines (STICERD)
Research centres and groups > Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE)
Rights: http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/usingTheLibrary/academicSupport/OA/depositYourResearch.aspx
Identification Number: 68
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2007
URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/2046/

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