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Title

Taxing Hard-to-Tax Markets with Consumer Auditing

Department

Economics Department

College

Seidman College of Business

Disciplines

Business

Abstract

This paper characterizes optimal taxation policies in the presence of tax evasion and costly tax enforcement, which can be prevalent problems in some markets, especially in less developed economies. We consider a linear economy model where there are increasing costs of auditing transactions in distant markets. The difficulty to collect taxes results in low provision of the public good and welfare redistribution in favor of consumers in hard-to-tax markets, who do not pay taxes, but still benefit from the public good. To reduce distortions, the government can implement a tax rebate policy that rewards buyers for requesting transaction receipts in hard-to-tax markets. The receipts create paper trails that the government can use to enforce tax payments. We find that, when the cost to implement this policy to buyers and the government are sufficiently low, the reduction in the marginal cost of taxation leads to increased public good provision and higher social welfare. In addition, the policy redistributes the tax burden across markets as it allows the government to collect taxes from hard-to-tax markets.

Conference Name

60th Annual North American Meetings of the Regional Science Association International, 2013

Conference Location

Atlanta, GA

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