The nudge unit in action

I came across this a while ago and found it quite amusing. It’s a poster that’s been up on billboards and buses in the U.K. More intrusively, they also had it popping up on ATM screens while people were waiting for transactions to be completed (which I think is kind of awesome, but also freaked a lot of people out). Patrick’s post on tax avoidance made me think of it again.

undisclosed income

There are at least three things going on here that I find interesting.

First, what the U.K. government is trying to work with here is the so-called “watching eyes effect,” whereby the sight of eyes watching you has been shown to trigger more prosocial behavior. There is a huge literature on this, but for a nice sample, see here and here. There’s some debate about how robust the effect is. Whether it can convince people to pay their taxes is an entirely open question.… Continue reading

Affaire HSBC: la pointe de l’iceberg

Au terme d’une enquête de longue haleine, en collaboration avec 60 autres médias issus de 47 pays, le journal Le Monde vient d’exposer au grand jour un vaste système d’évasion fiscale orchestré par l’institution financière britannique HSBC (qui n’en est d’ailleurs pas à son premier scandale)

La nouvelle fait déjà beaucoup parler, notamment à cause des célébrités impliquées, mais les véritables vedettes de l’affaire, ce sont les chiffres : 180,6 milliards d’euro transférés dans le plus grand secret vers Genève, par l’entremise de comptes HSBC appartenant à plus de 100 000 clients et de 20 000 sociétés. Et cela, uniquement entre le 9 novembre 2006 et le 31 mars 2007.

Il s’agit d’activités illicites, il est donc par définition difficile de connaître l’ampleur des sommes impliquées par les structures et mécanismes de l’évasion fiscale. Cette enquête, basée sur des archives numérisées dérobées à la filière suisse de la Banque HSBC, a donc le mérite de jeter une lumière sur cette réalité, même si ce n’est que de façon partielle.… Continue reading

Weekend tax policy reading

Yes, the weekend is nearly upon us. Almost time to put your feet up, get a cup of coffee, relax and catch up on your reading — and what greater joy could there be but to dig into some cutting-edge thinking in Canadian tax policy? After all, don’t you care about social justice? And aren’t you tired of listening to Americans fighting about their tax system? Wouldn’t it be a refreshing change to listen to a sensible Canadian, making sensible recommendations for how our own income tax system could be made more efficient and more just? Well I have just the thing for you:

I read the notes to this speech by Kevin Milligan (UBC Economics) when he gave it in November, but only recently noticed that the official published version is much more elaborate: Tax Policy for a New Era: Promoting Economic Growth and Fairness, and really does offer one-stop shopping for all your tax policy needs.… Continue reading