Tax Evasion and Inequality

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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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Economic Review
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)2073-2103
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

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