Panayiotis Nicolaides

Panayiotis Nicolaides

Director of Research (EU Tax Observatory) and PhD Researcher (Hertie School, Berlin)

EU Tax Observatory

Paris School of Economics

Hertie School, Berlin

Welcome! I am Director of Research at the EU Tax Observatory, Paris School of Economics and PhD Researcher at the Hertie School, Berlin. I specialise in public economics and taxation, in particular tax compliance and the empirical analysis of tax policy using administrative data.

I am on the market for Assistant Professor positions in 2022-2023 and available for interviews at EJM and ASSA meetings. Download my CV here and Job Market Paper here.

My research uses administrative data and utilises discontinuities, exemptions and cut-offs created by policy to provide empirical evidence on economic behaviour and to estimate the effect on government revenue. Topics include novel forms of third-party reporting policy, tax lotteries and VAT incidence. You can find recent papers and ongoing projects in the research section.

The majority of my work is guided closely by policy developments, having spent the first part of my career (2013-2019) managing the Greek economic crisis in Brussels and Athens. Since 2021, I have been setting up the EU Tax Observatory in Paris; I direct its scientific programme, coordinate research output and manage relations with external stakeholders. You can find more in the policy section.

  • Public Economics
  • Taxation
  • Tax Enforcement
  • Applied Microeconomics
  • Ph.D, 2023 (expected)

    Hertie School, Berlin

  • M.Phil in Economics, 2013

    University of Oxford

  • BA in Economics and Economic History, 2011

    University of Manchester


Winning the Tax Lottery: Evidence from a Superdraw on Christmas Eve (_Job Market Paper_)

Winning the Tax Lottery: Evidence from a Superdraw on Christmas Eve (Job Market Paper)

This paper studies a tax lottery in Greece and documents an increase in VAT revenue. The lottery incentivises the use of electronic payments over cash to fight tax evasion by allocating EUR 1 million in prizes every month. Tickets are awarded automatically when individuals complete retail transactions by electronic means. I exploit a superdraw at the start of the lottery in Christmas Eve 2017; participation was unanticipated and individuals could not influence their winning chances. I estimate that regional VAT revenue increased by 0.01% per additional winner (or by EUR 2,700 compared to a EUR 1,000 winning prize). This effect can be explained through winners, who increased their electronic consumption by 14%. Lasting for five months, this channel alone cannot explain the entire VAT effect. A second channel is documented through spillover effects from winners to non-winners. The lottery’s positive outcome demonstrates the potential of electronic payments to raise tax revenue.

Income Tax Incentives for Electronic Payments: Evidence from Greece’s Electronic Consumption Tax Discount

Income Tax Incentives for Electronic Payments: Evidence from Greece’s Electronic Consumption Tax Discount

How effective are features of the income tax in incentivising a change in behaviour? I study how Greek taxpayers respond to a novel policy, which conditions their personal tax allowance on electronic consumption, requiring specific amounts to be reached during the financial year. Aimed at incentivising a change from cash to electronic payments, the policy includes almost all taxpayers by default, generates monthly electronic spending information and pre-fills the annual amounts spent in tax returns. Using a unique administrative dataset of 50,000 randomly-drawn taxpayers, I document (a) strong responses to the policy during tax filing, with 92% reporting the required amounts to gain the full tax discount, (b) evidence of increased reported amounts if consumption is lower than required, (c) economically and statistically significant electronic consumption responses in some taxpayers as the end-of-year deadline approaches. Adjustment costs in the form of policy inattention, liquidity constraints and low perceived costs of audit can explain the mixed policy outcome. The results suggest that linking incentives to existing features of the income tax system can trigger large responses, but the overall effect depends on adjustment costs in the taxpayer population.

Corporate Tax Responses to a VAT Increase: Evidence from the Greek Islands

Corporate Tax Responses to a VAT Increase: Evidence from the Greek Islands

Currently at analysis phase. We exploit the repeal of preferential VAT rates (from 17% to 24%) in Greek islands during the Greek economic crisis to investigate responses of firms to corporate taxes and tax avoidance. The repeal time and choice of islands was unanticipated. We combine the universe of corporate tax returns with Orbis data to construct a control group of corporations located in islands not subject to the preferential VAT rate (always at 24%). We document a decrease in sales, profits and taxes reported in annual tax returns. This suggest that a VAT rate increase might lead to second-round effects through lower consumer demand and lower profits for firms.

Payments in Tax Havens: Evidence from Belgium

Currently at data collection phase


Proposal for a European Asset Registry (with Theresa Neef, Lucas Chancel, Thomas Piketty and Gabriel Zucman)
This note provides data on wealth inequality in Russia and advocates for a European Asset Registry. Russia exhibits the highest wealth inequality in Europe. Further, Russia’s wealthiest nationals conceal a large share of their wealth through tax havens. The current architecture of the global financial system impedes comprehensive knowledge on beneficial ownership across asset types and jurisdictions. Under the roof of a European Asset Registry, the already existing but currently dispersed information could be gathered. This would change the state of play, resulting in better-targeted sanctions and effective tools to curb money laundering, corruption and tax evasion. The European Union could have a pioneering role in taking the next step towards more financial transparency
EU Tax Observatory
The EU Tax Observatory is an independent research laboratory hosted at the Paris School of Economics. It conducts innovative research on taxation, contributes to a democratic and inclusive debate on the future of taxation, and fosters a dialogue between the scientific community, civil society, and policymakers in the European Union and worldwide. I have been part of its inaugural team since February 2021, setting it up, directing its research programme and managing contacts with external stakeholders. We expect to establish the Observatory as the leading reference point for tax evasion and tax avoidance research in the EU.
Oxygono (European Citizen’s Prize 2022)
Oxygono is a non-governmental non-profit organisation established in 2014 and is headquartered in Cyprus, consisting of individuals from a range of backgrounds including academics, social, political, and professional sectors. It aims to improve the quality of public debate in Cyprus and consequently the achievement of reforms and modernization of our country to improve the quality of life of citizens in all aspects of public life - such as health, economy, education, justice, and foreign policy, research and entrepreneurship. I was one of the founding members of the organisation, serving in its Executive Committee since 2014. We organise a range of events every year, including the Cyprus Forum.
Greek Economic Crisis
From 2014 to 2019 I worked on the Greek economic crisis, having served as Alternate Member to the Eurogroup Working Group for 3 years and having prepared about 30 Eurogroup/ECOFIN and 4 Euro Summit meetings. I oversaw the successful implementation of Greece’s 3rd economic adjustment programme, contributed to the stabilisation of the economy and led the technical part of the debt relief negotiations, which resulted in substantial restructuring of the Greek public debt in August 2018. Picture from informal EuroWorking Group at Lake Bled, Slovenia on 9 June 2017 - an important meeting in completing the Greek economic adjustment programme and stabilising the public debt.
Greek Economic Crisis

Recent & Upcoming Talks

IEB Seminar: Electronic Payments Lottery and Tax Revenue: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Greece
Uncovering Hidden Wealth – Ways to Stop Offshore Secrecy