OECD Observer
The Friday fish
A weekly catch from behind the headlines on oecd.org

No 13: Zapping retailer tax evasion; Tax morality; Trade barriers you don't see; Education: catch 'em early; Avoiding a wobble in the Swedish model 

Zapping retailer tax evasion

Ever hear of "zappers" or "phantomware"? No, these are not Halloween outfits, but software which some retail businesses use to evade tax. Electronic cash registers in retail outlets are equipped with such "sales suppression" software, and this facilitates elaborate tax frauds. This report describes some of the most common electronic sales suppression techniques, including those "zappers", and shows how auditors can detect and hopefully zap those malpractices for good. 

What drives tax morale? 

What do people in developing countries think about paying tax? This study provides fresh analysis of public opinion surveys to examine what lies behind citizens' "tax morale"– what motivates them to pay their taxes other than their legal obligation to do so.

The trade barriers you don't see

When people think of trade barriers they often think of paying tariffs. But factors like standards and quality norms may also act as trade barriers. These non-tariff barriers can cost a lot too. In Brazil for instance they account for 40% of import costs, whereas tariffs account for 14%. For the US the proportions are nearly 50% for non-tariff barriers and over 6% for tariffs. Nor are those standards just set by government. Private retailers, agri-food companies and the like are more actively developing standards that determine market access. This policy brief looks at these challenges, notably for developing countries.

Catch 'em early

Did you know that kids who attend early childhood education tend to do better at school later on? And this, whatever their social background. This is just one of the many social benefits of education that are examined in this new report hot online today.

Avoiding a wobble in the Swedish model

Sweden has done pretty well in standing up to the economic crisis, but the concentration in its banking sector is a bit of a worry. Also, private credit growth and leverage, which are considered good predictors of crises, have risen to high levels over the past decade. Muge Adalet McGowan looks at how these and other issues may be addressed to help Sweden stay on its feet.  

The Friday fish #13 ©OECD Observer, 22 February 2013