Using Littered Pack Data to Estimate Cigarette Tax Avoidance in NYC
43 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2012
Date Written: June 2011
NYC has the highest cigarette tax rate in the nation. Using tax stamp data from littered packs of cigarettes from a sample of randomly selected NYC census tracts, collected once before and three times after a tax increase, we find that tax evasion is high relative to the U.S., but that the increase in avoidance after the tax increase is less than national estimates. Tax avoidance increased from 15 to 24 percent, while consumption declined by 10 percent. Rates of avoidance are higher in poorer areas. Revenue losses from untaxed smoking are estimated to be as much as half of the total revenue from cigarette taxation in NYC.
Keywords: tax evasion, interjurisdictional differentials, excise taxation, health and smoking
JEL Classification: H26, H73, H27, I18
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