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Ghost-house busters: the electoral response to a large anti–tax evasion program


Casaburi, Lorenzo; Troiano, Ugo (2015). Ghost-house busters: the electoral response to a large anti–tax evasion program. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 131(1):273-314.

Abstract

The incentives of political agents to enforce tax collection are key determinants of the levels of compliance. We study the electoral response to the Ghost Buildings program, a nationwide anti tax evasion policy in Italy that used innovative monitoring technologies to target buildings hidden from tax authorities. The program induced monetary and non-monetary benefits for non-evaders and an increase in local government expenditures. A one standard deviation increase in town-level program intensity leads to a 4.8% increase in local incumbent reelection rates. In addition, these political returns are higher in areas with lower tax evasion tolerance and with higher efficiency of public good provision, implying complementarity among enforcement policies, the underlying tax culture, and the quality of the government.

Abstract

The incentives of political agents to enforce tax collection are key determinants of the levels of compliance. We study the electoral response to the Ghost Buildings program, a nationwide anti tax evasion policy in Italy that used innovative monitoring technologies to target buildings hidden from tax authorities. The program induced monetary and non-monetary benefits for non-evaders and an increase in local government expenditures. A one standard deviation increase in town-level program intensity leads to a 4.8% increase in local incumbent reelection rates. In addition, these political returns are higher in areas with lower tax evasion tolerance and with higher efficiency of public good provision, implying complementarity among enforcement policies, the underlying tax culture, and the quality of the government.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:February 2015
Deposited On:17 Nov 2016 11:43
Last Modified:20 Nov 2016 06:34
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:0033-5533
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qjv041

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