Tax Bureaucrats and Their Clients: Changes in Taxpayers and Tax Inspectors Relationship in Russia
Institute of Sociology Institute of Sociology RAS Moscow, Russia
The paper looks at the changes in relationship between the policy makers, the tax inspectors and the taxpayers in 2000s. Paper utilizes data of a unique panel survey of citizens and tax officials (2001, 2008) as well as ethnographic studies. Survey in 2001 revealed a serious gap between the state higher authorities´ policy and actual behavior of the rank-and-file tax inspectors and taxpayers. Both tax inspectors and taxpayers were rather on the same side of "barricade", opposing to state higher level tax authorities. Internal hierarchy within the agency was relatively weak. Informal ad-hoc arrangements, corruption and tax evasion were not only wide-spread, but often justified by the both sides of the taxation mechanism. In 2008 the tax agency became one of the most feared and organized, with drastically increased capacity to collect taxes. The study presents an opportunity to question how the state is able to increase tax collection and decrease tax evasion in relatively short time. The paper argues that the most important factor could be seen in the institutional changes due to policy focusing on internal organizational changes and role-performing identities within tax employees. This resulted in increasing state regulatory capture capacity and more obedience of taxpayers. However, in tax policy there was a relatively little focus on improving efficiency of taxation regime in terms of introducing more incentives for businesses.