A Structural Equation Model for Tax Compliance and Auditing

Kurt J. Beron, Helen V. Tauchen, Ann Dryden Witte

NBER Working Paper No. 2556
Issued in April 1988
NBER Program(s):Public Economics

In this paper. we estimate a three equation model for taxpayers' reported income and tax liability and for the probability of an audit. Our work differs from previous studies in that our dependent variables in the compliance equations are taxpayer reports rather than a variable related to auditor estimates of noncompliance and in that we estimate a structural equation for audits. We find that audits stimulate compliance although the effect is not large and is not statistically significant for all groups. Audits are more effective at inducing accurate reporting of subtractions from income than of income. Reduced-form results suggest that IRS activities other than audits have significant compliance effects. Results for the sociodemographic variables are interesting and help to explain some seemingly incongruous findings in the literature. We find compliance to be higher, if anything. in areas with less educated and older taxpayers, a large proportion of households headed by females. and a mostly native born population.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w2556

Published: "The Effect of Audits and Socio-Economic Variables on Tax Compliance," in Joel Slemrod, editor. Tax Compliance and Tax Law Enforcement. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992

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