The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper sets out a framework for analyzing optimal interventions by a tax administration, one that parallels and can be closely integrated with established frameworks for thinking about optimal tax policy. Its key contribution is the development of a summary measure of the impact of administrative interventions-the 'enforcement elasticity of tax revenue'-that is a sufficient statistic for the behavioral response to such interventions, much as the elasticity of taxable income serves as a sufficient statistic for the response to tax rates. Amongst the applications are characterizations of the optimal balance between policy and administrative measures, and of the optimal compliance gap.