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Using Littered Pack Data to Estimate Cigarette Tax Avoidance in Nyc

Howard Chernick and David Merriman

Abstract:

Using data on tax stamps obtained from random samples of littered packs of cigarettes, collected once before and three times after a June 2008 New York State tax increase, we find that baseline New York City tax avoidance is high relative to national estimates, and that rates of avoidance are particularly high in neighborhoods with high levels of poverty and in relatively close proximity to a Native American reservation. The share of littered packs with no tax stamp increased from 15 to 24 percent after the tax increase. We find that in addition to the large increase in avoidance, cigarette consumption declined.

Citation

Howard Chernick and David Merriman (2013), Using Littered Pack Data to Estimate Cigarette Tax Avoidance in Nyc, National Tax Journal, 66:3, pp. 635-668

DOI: dx.doi.org/10.17310/ntj.2013.3.05