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The minimum wage, informal pay and tax enforcement

Anikó Bíró, Daniel Prinz and László Sándor
IFS Working Paper W21/41

We study the taxation of the minimum wage in an environment with imperfect enforcement and informality. We leverage an increase in the audit threat for earnings below a reporting threshold at twice the minimum wage in Hungary and estimate reporting and employment responses with administrative panel data. Using bunching estimators and difference-in-differences methods, we show that a substantial share of those who report earning the minimum wage earn at least the same amount off the books. When enforcement is imperfect, a taxed minimum wage serves as a backstop on underreporting and recovers some revenue but also increases informality.