Blanchette, Maude (2010). L’effet des lois sur l’évasion fiscale: une synthèse systématique des recherches évaluatives. Master's thesis / Doctoral dissertation.
Introduction and objectives. Between 1976 and 1995, tax evasion has generated losses varying between 2 to 44 billions in Canada. In order to stop the upward trend observed in tax evasion in the 1980s and 1990s, several jurisdictions introduced legal measures such as amnesties, tax reforms and new legislations. Not only these measures rest on different paradigms but their effectiveness has yet to be proven. While it is generally argued that threats of legal sanctions are effective to deal with offenders involved in economic crimes, such a claim rests on weak empirical evidence. By conducting a systematic review, the objective of this thesis is to further our understanding about the effect of tax laws on tax evasion. Method. Systematic review is referred to as the most suitable method to review a body of literature on a given subject and to determine its effect on a particular outcome. We searched 18 databases that led to the identification of 23,723 references. Overall, 8 studies containing 9 evaluations met inclusion criteria and were kept for the review. These studies assess the effect of tax laws on a total of 17 variables. All studies were assessed based on the type of law and their methodological robustness. The vote-count method was then used to identify effective measures. Results. Out of the 17 outcomes, 7 indicate that laws have no effect on tax evasion while 6 show increases in tax evasion indicators. Only 4 outcomes were in the expected direction. On the other hand, by grouping results according to the type of measures, tax reform appears as the only effective intervention. Conclusion. Our results suggest that programs based on Becker’s economic model and that promote equity are promising. Amnesties seeking to identify tax evaders by offering economic advantages and sanction immunity are not only ineffective but could compromise a system based on self-assessment, which rest on the principle of perceived equity.