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Keeping it off the books: an empirical investigation of firms that engage in tax evasion

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This article uses a unique dataset that contains detailed information on firms from around the world to investigate factors that affect under-reporting behaviour. The empirical strategy employed exploits the nature of the dependent variable, which is interval coded, and uses interval regression which provides an asymptotically efficient estimator provided that the classical linear model assumptions hold. These assumptions are investigated using standard diagnostic tests that have been modified for the interval regression model. Evidence is presented that shows that the firms in all regions engage in under-reporting. Regression results indicate that government corruption has the single largest causal effect on under-reporting, resulting in the percentage of sales not reported to the tax authority being 51.3% higher. Taxes have the second single largest causal effect on under-reporting, resulting in the percentage of sales not reported to the tax authority being 18.0% higher, followed by access to financing at 8.9% higher and organized crime at 7.6% higher. Inflation, political instability, exchange rates and the fairness of the legal system were found to have no effect on under-reporting. It is also found that there is a significant correlation between under-reporting and the legal organization of the business, size, age, ownership, competition and audit controls.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Public Administration, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, V8W 2Y2, Canada

Publication date: 2010-08-01

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