NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Tax Compliance: An Investigation Using Individual TCMP Data

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

NBER Working Paper No. 3078
Issued in August 1989
NBER Program(s):Public Economics

In this paper, we analyze the tax compliance behavior of US taxpayers by using a 1979 data set that combines information from a random sample of individual tax returns each of which has been thoroughly audited, IRS administrative records, and sociodemographic data from the Census. We find evidence that both audits and tax code provisions affect compliance. However, the effects are significant for only the low and high income groups. Interestingly, previous research has shown that these groups also participate most actively in underground economic activities, the income from which is not reported on any tax returns. Our results for audits suggest that the "ripple" or general deterrent effect of audits may be many times larger than the direct revenue yield of audits for high income taxpayers. Our results for allowable subtractions from income imply that the 1986 Tax Reform Act changes to lower allowable subtractions may have procompliance effects.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w3078

Published: Journal of Quantitative Criminology, vol. 9, no. 2, 1993, p. 177-202

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