Transaction-tax Evasion in the Housing Market

Abstract

We model the behaviour of a buyer trying to evade the real estate transfer tax. We identify over-appraisal as a key, easily-observable element that is inversely related with tax evasion. We conclude that the tax authority could focus auditing efforts on low-appraisal transactions. We include `behavioural' components (shame and stigma) allowing to introduce buyers' (education) and societal (social capital) characteristics that explain individual and idiosyncratic variations. Our empirical analysis confirms the predictions using a unique database, where we directly observe: real payment, value declared to the authority, appraisal, buyers' educational level and local levels of corruption and trust.