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Tax evasion and public governance before and after the European “big bang”: a red flag for policymakers

Ahmed Emadeldin Yamen (Department of Accounting, American University of the Middle East, Egaila, Kuwait, and Faculty of Business, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt)
Hounaida Mersni (Department of Accounting, American University of the Middle East, Egaila, Kuwait)
Abdulhadi Ramadan (Department of Accounting, American University of the Middle East, Egaila, Kuwait)

Journal of Financial Crime

ISSN: 1359-0790

Article publication date: 18 June 2020

Issue publication date: 2 February 2023

495

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of public governance quality on tax evasion levels in old (pre-2004) and new (post-2004) European Union (EU) members before and after the 2004 EU-enlargement.

Design/methodology/approach

This study uses panel data of 28 EU countries over the period 1996-2015. Tax evasion is measured using an updated version of the shadow economy size based on the light intensity, as calculated by (Medina and Schneider, 2018). The World Bank’s worldwide governance indicators are used as a measure of public governance.

Findings

The results indicate that new EU members have higher tax evasion levels compared to the old ones before and after the 2004 EU enlargement. The findings also report that the public governance quality is superior in old members throughout the 1996-2015 period. Furthermore, the authors found that after the EU enlargement, tax evasion levels decreased in both EU groups; however, the authors noticed an improvement in the public governance quality in new members and a deterioration in old ones. Additional analysis confirms the impact of public governance quality as an effective tool for reducing tax evasion behavior in both EU groups before and after the EU enlargement.

Practical implications

The findings are potentially useful for EU policymakers in identifying the most effective tools that can minimize tax evasion levels in EU countries. Additionally, the results are alarming as they show the negative consequences of the EU enlargement in old EU members. Thus, policymakers should consider them when setting their rules and regulations to reduce the significant differences between both EU groups to prevent member states from potentially exiting the EU.

Originality/value

To the best of the knowledge, this is the first study that examines the tax evasion behavior and public governance quality in the EU before and after the EU enlargement.

Keywords

Citation

Yamen, A.E., Mersni, H. and Ramadan, A. (2023), "Tax evasion and public governance before and after the European “big bang”: a red flag for policymakers", Journal of Financial Crime, Vol. 30 No. 2, pp. 420-436. https://doi.org/10.1108/JFC-04-2020-0064

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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