|An aspect of fiscal policy|
Tax evasion is the term for efforts by individuals, corporations, trusts and other entities to evade taxes by illegal means. Tax evasion often entails taxpayers deliberately misrepresenting the true state of their affairs to the tax authorities to reduce their tax liability and includes dishonest tax reporting, such as declaring less income, profits or gains than the amounts actually earned, or overstating deductions. Tax evasion is an activity commonly associated with the informal economy. One measure of the extent of tax evasion (the "tax gap") is the amount of unreported income, which is the difference between the amount of income that should be reported to the tax authorities and the actual amount reported.
In contrast, tax avoidance is the legal use of tax laws to reduce one's tax burden. Both tax evasion and avoidance can be viewed as forms of tax noncompliance, as they describe a range of activities that are unfavorable to a state's tax system, although such characterization of tax avoidance is suspect, given that avoidance is lawful, within self-creating systems.
In 1968, Nobel laureate economist Gary Becker first theorized the economics of crime, on the basis of which authors M.G. Allingham and A. Sandmo produced, in 1972, an economic model of tax evasion. This model deals with the evasion of income tax, the main source of tax revenue in the developed countries. According to the authors, the level of evasion of income tax depends on the level of punishment provided by law.
The literature's theoretical models are elegant in their effort to identify the variables likely to affect non-compliant behaviors. Alternative specifications, however, yield conflicting results concerning both the signs and magnitudes of variables believed to affect tax evasion. Empirical work is required to resolve the theoretical ambiguities. Income tax evasion appears to be positively influenced by the tax rate, the unemployment rate, the level of income and dissatisfaction with government. The U.S. Tax Reform Act of 1986 appears to have reduced tax evasion in the United States.
Customs duties are an important source of revenue in the developing countries. The importers purport to evade customs duty by (a) under-invoicing and (b) misdeclaration of quantity and product-description. When there is ad valorem import duty, the tax base is reduced through underinvoicing. Misdeclaration of quantity is more relevant for products with specific duty. Production description is changed match a H. S. Code commensurate with a lower rate of duty.
|This section requires expansion. (June 2008)|
Smuggling is importation or exportation of foreign products by unauthorized means. Smuggling is resorted to for total evasion of customs duties, as well as for the importation of contraband items. A smuggler does not have to pay any customs duty since the products are not routed through an authorized customs port, and therefore are not subjected to declaration and payment of duties and taxes.
During the second half of the 20th century, value added tax (VAT) emerged as a modern form of consumption tax through the world, with the notable exception of the United States. Producers who collect VAT from consumers may evade tax by under-reporting the amount of sales. The US has no broad-based consumption tax at the federal level, and no state currently collects VAT; the overwhelming majority of states instead collect sales taxes. Canada uses both a VAT at the federal level (the Goods and Services Tax) and sales taxes at the provincial level; some provinces have a single tax combining both forms.
In addition, most jurisdictions which levy a VAT or sales tax also legally require their residents to report and pay the tax on items purchased in another jurisdiction. This means that consumers who purchase something in a lower-taxed or untaxed jurisdiction with the intention of avoiding VAT or sales tax in their home jurisdiction are breaking the law in most cases. This is especially prevalent in federal countries like Nigeria, US and Canada where sub-national jurisdictions charge varying rates of VAT or sales tax. In Nigeria, for example, some federal states enforce VAT on each item of goods sold by traders. The price must be clearly stated and the VAT shown separately from the basic price. If the trader does not comply (e.g. by including the VAT in the price of the goods) this is punishable as attempting to siphon the VAT.
It is not usually practicable to enforce tax collection on goods carried in private vehicles from one district to another with a different tax rate, and states often only seek to collect the tax on high-value items such as cars.
The level of evasion depends on a number of factors, including fiscal equation[clarification needed]. Efforts to evade income tax decline when the amounts involved are lower. The level of evasion also depends on the efficiency of the tax administration. Corruption by tax officials make it difficult to control evasion. Tax administrations use various means to reduce evasion and increase the level of enforcement: for example, privatization of tax enforcement, tax farming, and Pre-Shipment Inspection (PSI) agencies. In 2011, HMRC stated that it would continue to crack down on tax evasion, with the goal of collecting £18 billion in revenue before 2015. In 2010, HMRC began a voluntary amnesty programme that targeted middle-class professionals and raised £500 million.
Corrupt tax officials co-operate with the taxpayers who intend to evade taxes. When they detect an instance of evasion, they refrain from reporting it in return for bribes. Corruption by tax officials is a serious problem for the tax administration in many less developed countries.
Tax evasion is a crime in almost all developed countries, and the guilty party is liable to fines and/or imprisonment. In Switzerland, many acts that would amount to criminal tax evasion in other countries are treated as civil matters. Dishonestly misreporting income in a tax return is not necessarily considered a crime. Such matters are handled in the Swiss tax courts, not the criminal courts.
In Switzerland, however, some tax misconduct is criminal, for example, deliberate falsification of records. Moreover, civil tax transgressions may give rise to penalties. It is often considered that the extent of evasion depends on the severity of punishment for evasion.
Professor Christopher Hood first suggested privatization of tax enforcement to control tax evasion more efficiently than a government department would., and some governments have adopted this approach. In Bangladesh, customs administration was partly privatized in 1991.
Abuse by private tax collectors (see tax farming below) has on occasion led to revolutionary overthrow of governments which have outsourced tax administration.
Tax farming is an historical means of collection of revenue. Governments received a lump sum in advance from a private entity, which then collects and retains the revenue, and bears the risk of evasion by the taxpayers. It has been suggested that tax farming may reduce tax evasion in less developed countries.
This system may be liable to abuse by the "tax-farmers" seeking to make a profit, without being subject to political constraints. Abuses by tax farmers (together with a tax system that exempted the aristocracy) were a primary reason for the French Revolution that toppled Louis XVI.
Pre-shipment Agencies like SGS, Cotecna etc. are employed to prevent evasion of customs duty through under-invoicing and misdeclaration. However, in the recent times, allegations have been lodged that PSI agencies have actively cooperated with the importers in evading customs duties. Authority in Bangladesh has found Cotecna, a PSI agency of Swiss origin, guilty of complicity with the importers for evasion of customs duties on a huge scale. The same company Cotecna was implicated for bribing Pakistan's prime minister Benazir Bhutto for securing contract for importation by Pakistani importers. She and her husband were sentenced both in Pakistan and Switzerland.
|Total revenue lost:||$3.09 trillion|
In the United States, tax evasion is the purposeful, illegal attempt to evade the assessment or the payment of a tax imposed by federal law. Conviction of tax evasion may result in fines and imprisonment.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has identified small businesses and sole proprietors as the largest contributors to the tax gap between what Americans owe in federal taxes and what the federal government receives. Small businesses and sole proprietorships contribute to the tax gap because there are few ways for the government to know about skimming or non-reporting of income without mounting significant investigations.
The typical tax evader in the United States is a male under the age of 50 in the highest tax bracket and with a complicated tax return. The most common means of tax evasion is overstatement of charitable contributions, particularly church donations.
In the United States, the IRS estimate of the 2001 tax gap was $345 billion. For 2006, the tax gap was estimated to be $450 billion. A more recent study estimates the 2008 tax gap in the range of $450–$500 billion, and unreported income to be approximately $2 trillion. Therefore, 18-19 percent of total reportable income is not properly reported to the IRS.
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