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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: January 2010

1 - Introduction

Summary

Is tax evasion a hot topic in economics and social sciences? A search for citations in the ‘Web of Science’ (January 2006; SSCI, SCI and A&HCI) yielded confirming results: from the beginning of documentation in 1945 to 1980, 75 citations were produced when the key words ‘tax’, ‘taxes’, ‘taxation’ and ‘evasion’ or ‘compliance’ were entered. In the following decade, 1981 to 1990, the number increased to 141, and reached 372 in the years spanning 1991 to 2000. Even faster growth is seen from 2001 to 2005, with 278 new publications registered. In 1986, Freiberg wrote that little is known about the extent of tax evasion, and even less is known about the criteria for enforcement of the law, or why some cases are selected for prosecution and others are not. Andreoni, Erard and Feinstein (1998) observed that from the beginning of the 1980s until the completion of their tax compliance review in the late 1990s there was an increasing tide of research on tax compliance. This tide has continued to grow into the present. As most of the publications are in the field of economics, an overwhelming majority refers to the influential models of tax evasion developed by Allingham and Sandmo (1972) and Srinivasan (1973) on the basis of Becker's 1968 theory of crime, which is tested by econometric modelling and analyses of empirical data, and further refined by adding specific variables which are assumed to influence tax compliance (cf. Franzoni, 2000).

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