Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Ghost-House Busters: The Electoral Response to a Large Anti Tax Evasion Program

Casaburi, Lorenzo and Troiano, Ugo (2013): Ghost-House Busters: The Electoral Response to a Large Anti Tax Evasion Program.

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Abstract

The incentives of political agents to enforce tax collection are key determinants of the levels of compliance. We study the electoral response to the Ghost Buildings program, a nationwide anti-tax evasion policy in Italy that used innovative monitoring technologies to target buildings hidden from tax authorities. Two million buildings were registered as a result of the program. Our difference-in-differences identification strategy exploits both variation across towns in the ex-ante program scope to increase enforcement as well as administrative data on actual building registrations. Local incumbents experience an increase in their reelection likelihood as a consequence of the policy. In addition, these political returns are higher in areas with lower tax evasion tolerance and with higher speed of public good provision, implying complementarity among enforcement policies, the underlying tax culture, and government efficiency.

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