Monday, June 3, 2019
Annette Alstadsæter (Norwegian University), Niels Johannesen (University of Copenhagen) & Gabriel Zucman (UC-Berkeley), Tax Evasion and Inequality, 109 Amer. Econ. Rev. 2073 (2019):
Drawing on a unique dataset of leaked customer lists from offshore financial institutions matched to administrative wealth records in Scandinavia, we show that offshore tax evasion is highly concentrated among the rich. The skewed distribution of offshore wealth implies high rates of tax evasion at the top: we find that the 0.01 percent richest households evade about 25 percent of their taxes. By contrast, tax evasion detected in stratified random tax audits is less than 5 percent throughout the distribution. Top wealth shares increase substantially when accounting for unreported assets, highlighting the importance of factoring in tax evasion to properly measure inequality.