Optimal taxation, tax evasion and rent-seeking
This thesis is made of five different chapters. Chp 1: OPTIMAL FISCAL AND PUBLIC EXPENDITURE POLICY IN A TWO CLASS ECONOMY This paper deals with optimal taxation and provision of public goods in a two-class economy with non linear income and linear commodity taxes. As far as optimal taxation is concerned, we first show that with two private goods the good complementary with leisure should be taxed more heavily. Second the standard income tax rules are shown to be augmented by considerations for offsetting the distortions created on the commodity markets. As to the provision of public goods we extend recent results for a two class economy with public funds raised entirely by means of a non-linear income tax system. The standard Samuelson rule is modified by two additional terms related to the self selection constraint and to the revenue of indirect taxes. They are both shown to vanish when the agents' utility functions are weakly separable between public and private goods (taken together) and leisure. Chp 2: DIRECT AND INDIRECT TAX EVASION: A SURVEY OF THE LITERATURE The purpose of this selective survey of the literature on both income and commodity tax evasion is to show in which directions, the literature has evolved. Two main approaches are identified for both direct and indirect tax evasion literature. The so-called taxpayer's point of view approach which is basically an exercise of maximization under uncertainty and the so-called tax collector's point of view which is a refinement of the Mirrlees-Stiglitz approach to income taxation and of the Ramsey approach to commodity taxation. The current state of the art is such that both approaches share similar strengths and weaknesses. Chp 3: TAX STRUCTURE, TAX REFORM AND TAX EVASION In this paper we explore whether the shift from an ad valorem tax to a value added tax (which is a prerequisite to join the European Union) improves the "integrity" (number of people in the regular market) and the "efficiency" (total tax revenues) of the tax system. A model of two parallel (black and regular) markets is analyzed. The production in both the black and the regular market is divided in three stages: raw material, intermediate good and final good. Firstly, we prove that if an ad valorem tax is levied, at all stages of the regular market, any, even partial, tax reform towards VAT unequivocally increases integrity (the number of agents). Secondly, we prove that efficiency of the tax system is a direct function of its integrity. Therefore a tax reform from ad valorem to VAT seems justifiable under these two criteria. As a passing result, regular market consumers' welfare is shown to increase. Chp 4. A NOTE ON CORRUPTION, PRODUCTION AND SHORTAGE IN USSR AND RUSSIA Shleifer and Vishny, 1992 argue that privatization increases production and reduces shortage; Komai, 1979 argues that privatization reduces both production and shortage. The transition from USSR to Russia reduced both production and shortage. We argue that this is just the result of the shrinking of the loss-making sector (industrial sector) and the expansion of the profit-making sector (the service sector and namely trade and retailing). We also argue that the validity of Kornai's model is limited to those firms which are overproducing (i.e. more than the profit maximization quantity) and the validity of Shleifer and Vishny's model is limited to those firms which are underproducing. This reconciles two otherwise contradictory papers. Chp 5: LABOUR MARKET REALLOCATION AND RENT-SEEKING IN TRANSITION ECONOMY We present a simple two-sector model of the Russian labour market. Starting from a "full-employment" equilibrium with no search (the USSR), we analyze the path to the new equilibrium with unemployment and search (Russia). The links between the fraction of people searching, the wage differential and the hiring and firing probability of both sectors are investigated. A tentative way to compute these probabilities is proposed starting from recent (91-94) Russian data on unemployment and wages. It is shown that the wage differential across sectors rises with the strengthening of the entry barriers. It is argued that if no action is taken by the Authorities to fight unemployment and to reduce the wage differential across sectors (e.g. relaxing the entry barriers to the most productive sector), the market will react by developing, as an endogenous alternative to unemployment, a third sector which would act as a rent seeking one against the most productive sector. This will increase the outflow of workers from the least productive sector. Finally, it is shown that if the fraction of rent-seeking people attains a critical mass the above-mentioned policies may not be enough to rid the economy of the rent-seeking sector.