Tax Evasion from a Policy Perspective: The Case of the Motor Fuels Tax

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Abstract

In recent years, many state legislatures have proposed, considered, and adopted legislation intended to thwart fuel tax evasion. Despite the recent political activity of state legislatures to increase fuel tax compliance, there is relatively little research examining the evasion of excise taxes in general or the motor-fuel tax in particular. This article examines the issues of fuel tax evasion from a policy perspective. We discuss the vulnerability of the fuel tax to evasion and examine how state legislatures in the southern region have responded to the tax evasion issue. We focus the examination on four major initiatives implemented at the federal level in four broad policy areas: tax administration, penalties and punishments, liability, and visibility and enforcement. These findings provide important insight for developing new strategies to enhance compliance to the fuel tax in particular and excise taxes in general. Furthermore, we discuss how issues of fuel tax compliance can be extended to other compliance issues such as Medicare fraud.

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