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Tax amnesties : theory, trends and some alternatives

  1. In Spain, Tax Amnesty Is Put to the Test
  2. IMF Special Issues
  4. Tax Amnesties: theory, trends, and some alternatives

Indeed, empirical studies show that even in the most successful cases, only a modest amount of revenues has been directly obtained through such amnesties. In a study titled, "Tax Amnesties: Theory, Trends and Some Alternatives," International Monetary Fund economists Eric Le Borgne and Katherine Baer, note that the benefits achieved from a tax amnesty are "in the best of cases, exaggerated and that they frequently do not manage to exceed the costs of the program — costs that are rarely accounted for. The economists go on to say that the standard that politicians often use for evaluating the impact of any tax amnesty is how much gross revenues increase over the short-term.

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While such revenues can grow effectively, those figures do not take into account the gain in net income — not only in the short term, but also over the medium term, since the "initial success of the [amnesty] measure" can decline because of various factors. Those factors include the possibility that the compliance rate of taxpayers will decline because the administration loses its credibility as a result of the social controversy generated by the perception that fraudsters receive favorable treatment.

In addition, the success of an amnesty may wane due to the direct costs of administering it, including funds, employees and advertising. Finally, there can also be losses due to the cost of the tax revenues that are sacrificed; that is to say, those funds that will not be recovered after the amnesty is enacted, but which could have been collected if the authorities had detected tax evasions and applied the corresponding penalties.

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The decision of the individual will be whether to take the risk and evade the tax," he says. He predicts that there certainly won't be many such people, because there is a very low probability of detecting non-compliance [with the tax law]; even a zero probability in those cases where the capital is located outside of Spain in tax havens. Fernando Rodrigo Sauco, a professor of economics and economic history at the University of Zaragoza, says that some empirical studies stress the role that tax amnesties can play as a tool in the transition to phases of taxation characterized by more severe treatment of evasive conduct.

In Spain, Tax Amnesty Is Put to the Test

Nevertheless, Spain's most recent experiences in tax amnesty do not invite optimism with respect to the possible success of such measures. In , then minister of economics Carlos Solchaga, offered taxpayers "opaque promissory notes": People were given the opportunity to bring themselves into compliance with tax law if they made complementary declarations of their true tax indebtedness in return for purchasing a special Spanish public-sector promissory note that carried a very low interest rate.

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  7. Beyond their limited effects on the amount of taxes collected, tax amnesties have produced all sorts of negative effects, experts say. Those who do comply with the tax law are invited to reestablish their relationship with the Treasury. This suggests the following question: Why maintain a relationship of collaboration and compliance with tax authorities if non-compliance with tax law is rewarded? According to Diaz Fuentes, amnesties have amounted to opportunities granted to fraudsters, over a limited period of time, to make voluntary contributions after admitting their evasions; and then obtaining a reduction or elimination of their corresponding penalties.

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    Second, they diminish the importance of the seriousness of the fraud and the infractions," he notes. Many decisive factors remain to be resolved in the measure recently approved in Spain, such as the model to be used for declaring and sending information to the government about compliance, as well as additional necessary measures for compliance with standardization measures. Rodrigo Sauco notes that in the future, authorities will more accurately evaluate the amnesty because they will be able to calibrate its generosity; that is to say, to fine-tune the effective range of its coverage.

    Amazing Grace: Tax Amnesties and Compliance. National Tax Journal. Alm J.

    IMF Special Issues

    Le Borgne, E. Christian, C.

    No Need to Wait for 2019 Tax Amnesty's Implementing Rules and Regulations to Avail its Benefits

    Fischer, R. Friedman, D. Experimental Methods: A Premier for Economist. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.


    Juanda, B. Bogor: IPB Press. Working Paper. Departement of Economics, IPB. Joulfaian, D. Participation in Tax Amnesties: Evidence from a State. Malik, A. The Economics of Tax Amnesties.

    Tax Amnesties: theory, trends, and some alternatives

    Mikesell, J. Fast Money? Parle, W. Public Administration Review. Purnomolastu, N. Jurnal Bisnis Terapan. Jurnal Kemenkeu RI. Ross J. SPEA Insight.