Tax Avoidance and Value-Added vs. Income Taxation in an Open Economy

21 Pages Posted: 20 May 1998 Last revised: 1 Oct 2010

See all articles by Roger H. Gordon

Roger H. Gordon

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Economics; Harvard University - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Soren Bo Nielsen

Copenhagen Business School - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: April 1996

Abstract

Ignoring tax avoidance possibilities, a value-added tax and a cash-flow income tax have identical behavioral and distributional consequences. Yet the available means of tax avoidance under each are very different. Under a VAT, avoidance occurs through cross-border shopping, whereas under an income tax it occurs through shifting taxable income abroad. Given avoidance, we show that a country would make use of both taxes in order to minimize the efficiency costs of avoidance activity, relying relatively more on that tax that is harder to avoid. We then make use of aggregate Danish tax and accounting data from 1992 to measure the amount of avoidance that occurred under the two taxes. While the estimates of avoidance activity are small, the figures imply that Denmark could reduce the real costs of avoidance activity by putting more weight on income rather than value- added taxes.

Suggested Citation

Gordon, Roger H. and Nielsen, Soren Bo, Tax Avoidance and Value-Added vs. Income Taxation in an Open Economy (April 1996). NBER Working Paper No. w5527. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4021

Roger H. Gordon (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Economics ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0508
United States
858-534-4828 (Phone)
858-534-7040 (Fax)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Soren Bo Nielsen

Copenhagen Business School - Department of Economics ( email )

Porcelænshaven 16 A, 1
Frederiksberg C, DK-2000
Denmark

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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