Vat in Emerging Economies: Does Third Party Verification Matter?

62 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2017

See all articles by Shekhar Mittal

Shekhar Mittal

UCLA-Anderson

Aprajit Mahajan

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics; Stanford University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: July 23, 2017

Abstract

A key stated advantage of the value-added tax (VAT) is that it allows the tax authority to verify transactions by comparing seller and buyer transaction reports. However, there is limited evidence on how these paper trails actually affect VAT collections particularly in low compliance environments. We use a unique data set (the universe of VAT returns for the Indian state of Delhi over five years) and the timing of a policy that improved the tax authority’s information about buyer-seller interactions to shed light on this issue. Using a difference-in-difference strategy we find that the policy had a large and significant effect on tax collections from wholesale firms relative to retail firms. We also find significant heterogeneity with almost the entire increase being driven by changes in the behavior of the biggest taxpaying firms. We also find suggestive evidence that improvement in information and enforcement are complementary for a subset of firms.

JEL Classification: H26, H32, O38

Suggested Citation

Mittal, Shekhar and Mahajan, Aprajit, Vat in Emerging Economies: Does Third Party Verification Matter? (July 23, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3029963. or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3029963

Shekhar Mittal (Contact Author)

UCLA-Anderson ( email )

Los Angeles, CA
United States
7347801120 (Phone)
7347801120 (Fax)

Aprajit Mahajan

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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