Dodging the Taxman: Firm Misreporting and Limits to Tax Enforcement

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Dodging the Taxman: Firm Misreporting and Limits to Tax Enforcement

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Title: Dodging the Taxman: Firm Misreporting and Limits to Tax Enforcement
Author: Carrillo, Paul; Pomeranz, Dina Deborah; Singhal, Monica

Note: Order does not necessarily reflect citation order of authors.

Citation: Carrillo, Paul, Dina Pomeranz, and Monica Singhal. "Dodging the Taxman: Firm Misreporting and Limits to Tax Enforcement." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 15-026, October 2014. (Note: Previously circulated as "Tax Me if You Can: Firm Misreporting Behavior and Evasion Substitution.")
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Abstract: Reducing tax evasion is a key priority for many governments, particularly in developing countries. A growing literature has argued that the ability to verify taxpayer self-reports against reports from third parties is critical for modern tax enforcement and the growth of state capacity. However, there may be limits to the effectiveness of third-party information if taxpayers can make offsetting adjustments on less verifiable margins. We present a simple framework to demonstrate the conditions under which this will occur and provide strong empirical evidence for such behavior by exploiting a natural experiment in Ecuador. We find that when firms are notified by the tax authority about detected revenue discrepancies on previously filed corporate income tax returns, they increase reported revenues, matching the third-party estimate when provided. Firms also increase reported costs by 96 cents for every dollar of revenue adjustment, resulting in minor increases in total tax collection.
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Open Access Policy Articles, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#OAP
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:13365391
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