Who Would Benefit from Simplifying the Tax Code? Frank Knight and Gustave Choquet Meet the Internal Revenue Service


We consider the classic Allingham and Sandmo (1972) tax compliance problem in the context of the Choquet-Schmeidler Expected Utility (CSEU) model, using the Non-Extremal Outcome (NEO)-additive capacities proposed by Chateauneuf et al (2002), in which Knightian uncertainty (ambiguity) exists concerning the penalty rate faced in the case of an audit. Pessimistic incarnations of the CSEU model can yield much lower underreporting rates than its Expected Utility (EU) counterpart, and do so without the need for moral sentiments, social stigma or probability perception functions. We confirm previous results, obtained in other contexts, showing that ambiguity-aversion reinforces the incentive effects of risk-aversion. We define the concept of a Risk-preserving increase in ambiguity (RPIA), which allows us to consider a change in the distribution of penalty rates such that (i) a CSEU decisionmaker will perceive a change in her welfare, whereas (ii) an EU decisionmaker will not.

Jean-Louis Arcand
Jean-Louis Arcand
Professor of Economics

My research interests include development economics, impact evaluation and nutrition and health.