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12:30 - 13:30 22 September 2014

Norms, Enforcement, and Tax Evasion


IFS Seminar Room | Institute for Fiscal Studies (link Map)
7 Ridgmount Street | London | WC1E 7AE | United Kingdom

Open to: Academic | Student
Ticketing: Open

Speaker information

Tim Besley, LSE

This paper studies the persistence of social norms in explaining tax evasion. We build a simple dynamic model of tax evasion that incorporates standard incentives to comply with taxes due to punishment and fines, intrinsic motivation, and social norms based on the desire to be perceived as pro-social. The latter underpins the role of norms and is the source of the dynamics that we study. Our empirical analysis exploits the adoption of a poll tax to fund local government in the UK in 1990 which led to widespread evasion. We also exploit a series of natural experiments due to narrow election outcomes which induce shifts into single-majority local governments and lead to more vigorous enforcement of local taxes. The econometric results are consistent with the model's main predictions on the dynamics of evasion.


Institute for Fiscal Studies
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