Audit Lags and Taxpayer Compliance: A Simple Intertemporal Model

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Joseph G Eisenhauer

Abstract

Conventional analyses oftaxpayer behaviorpredictthat individuals will fulfill their tax obligations completely if and only if the expected net gain from tax evasion is zero or negative. In practice, however, taxpayers commonly pay their full taxes despite what appears to be a strong financial incentive for noncompliance. A simple intertemporal model based on audit lags helps to resolve the discrepancy between theory and practice by showing that full compliance may indeed be utility maximizing despite the expectation of positive net gains from evasion, depending upon the taxpayer's future income, propensity for saving, and degree of risk aversion. (H26, D81)

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