Don't Buy into the Underground Economy

Did You Know?

An estimated $8.5 billion in owed corporate, personal income, and sales and use taxes goes uncollected in California each year.

What is the Underground Economy?

The underground economy refers to people who steal, make counterfeit products, engage in human trafficking, and hide what they owe in taxes.

Frequently, businesses that deal in cash and use other schemes to conceal their activities, identities, and their tax liabilities are working in the underground economy.

It offers an unfair and illegal advantage to those who do not comply with California's tax laws. It may even affect a business or someone you know.

It's No Deal for California and No Deal for You.

How Does It Affect Me?

The underground economy affects all Californians. The people who operate in the underground economy are taking money out of your pocket.

  • When you buy a knock-off merchandise, it affects people who graduated with design degrees, and ultimately steals their ideas.
  • When you buy a pirated DVD, it hurts actors
    and other jobs on a movie set.
  • When you buy black-market drugs, it threatens your health.
  • When you pay for services "under the table" it may be supporting human trafficking.

Why Should I Care?

  • Illegal activity undercuts legitimate businesses by offering lower-priced products.
  • Tax revenues that support government services such as schools, public safety, hospitals, parks, and roads are lost.
  • Workers are deprived of basic employment protections.
  • Criminals operating in the underground economy do not comply with state tax laws and have an illegal, unfair advantage over honest businesses.
  • Human traffickers victimize individuals by subjecting them to forced labor and deplorable living conditions.
Public Safety, Hospital, School montage
I am the solution...are you?

Invest in the Real Deal!

Be alert – Ask questions about the businesses with which you are working.

Be aware – Paying under the table is not a better deal.

Be informed – Buy only products that are not counterfeit.

Know the difference – If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Don’t Buy Into the Underground Economy!

Report to the BOE:

Anonymously report tax evasion, fraud, and counterfeit products at 888-334-3300 or through BOE online.


For more information:

pdf iconPoster: Invest in the Real Deal!

pdf iconPoster: Arresting the Underground Economy

pdf iconBrochure: Don't Buy Into California's Underground Economy

pdf iconCombating California's Underground Economy

YouTube Video It Hurts 30-sec TV PSA