The Effect of Public Disclosure on Reported Taxable Income: Evidence from Individuals and Corporations in Japan
45 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2010 Last revised: 25 Mar 2012
Date Written: March 12, 2012
The behavioral response to public disclosure of income tax returns figures prominently in policy debates about its advisability. Although supporters stress that it encourages tax compliance, policy debates proceed in the absence of empirical evidence about this, and any other, claimed behavioral impact. This paper provides the first such evidence by examining the behavioral response to the Japanese tax return public notification system. The analysis suggests that, when there is a threshold for disclosure, a non-trivial number of both individual and corporate taxpayers whose tax liability would otherwise be close to the threshold will underreport so as to avoid disclosure, provoking a response of the opposite direction than what supporters stress. An analysis of corporations’ financial data offers no evidence that these companies’ taxable income declined after the end of the disclosure system.
Keywords: Tax disclosure, Japanese income tax, Japanese economy
JEL Classification: H26
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation