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The Social Norms of Tax Compliance: Evidence from Australia, Singapore, and the United States

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Author Info

  • Donna Bobek

    ()

  • Robin Roberts
  • John Sweeney

Abstract

Tax compliance is a concern to governments around the world. Prior research (Alm, J. and I. Sanchez: 1995, KYKLOS 48, 3–19) has attributed unexplained inter-country differences in compliance rates to differences in social norms. Economics researchers studying tax compliance in the United States (U.S.) (see for example J. Andreoni et al.: 1998, Journal of Economic Literature 36, 818–860) have called for more attention to social (as opposed to economic) influences on tax compliance. In this study, we extend this prior research by explicitly examining the role of social norms [Cialdini, R. and M. Trost: 1998, The Handbook of Social Psychology (Oxford University Press, New York)] on tax compliance in three different countries. We test our research hypotheses using a hypothetical compliance scenario, which was administered in Australia, Singapore, and the U.S. There were differences in compliance rates and social norms among the three countries. Factor analysis of the social norm questions identified three distinct social norm constructs. Two of these factors were significant in explaining tax compliance behavior. The first and most influential factor was taxpayers’ own personal moral beliefs, along with the beliefs of those close to them (e.g., friends and important others). The second significant factor represented societal views of proper behavior. We conclude that social norms help to explain tax compliance intentions and why tax compliance rates are higher than would be predicted by strictly economic models. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10551-006-9219-x
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Business Ethics.

Volume (Year): 74 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (August)
Pages: 49-64

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Handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:74:y:2007:i:1:p:49-64

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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100281

Related research

Keywords: social norms; tax compliance;

References

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  1. Luigi Bosco & Luigi Mittone, 1994. "Tax evasion and moral constraints: some experimental evidence," Department of Economics Working Papers 9402, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
  2. Alm, James & Sanchez, Isabel & de Juan, Ana, 1995. "Economic and Noneconomic Factors in Tax Compliance," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(1), pages 3-18.
  3. Alm, James & McClelland, Gary H & Schulze, William D, 1999. "Changing the Social Norm of Tax Compliance by Voting," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 141-71.
  4. Wenzel, Michael, 2004. "An analysis of norm processes in tax compliance," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 213-228, April.
  5. repec:att:wimass:9610 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Ajzen, Icek, 1991. "The theory of planned behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 179-211, December.
  7. Andreoni, J. & Erard, B. & Feinstein, J., 1996. "Tax Compliance," Working papers 9610r, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  8. Harrison, Graeme L. & McKinnon, Jill L., 1999. "Cross-cultural research in management control systems design: a review of the current state," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 24(5-6), pages 483-506, July.
  9. Baskerville, Rachel F., 2003. "Hofstede never studied culture," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 1-14, January.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Demirbag, Mehmet & Frecknall-Hughes, Jane & Glaister, Keith W. & Tatoglu, Ekrem, 2013. "Ethics and taxation: A cross-national comparison of UK and Turkish firms," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 100-111.
  2. Blanthorne, Cindy & Kaplan, Steven, 2008. "An egocentric model of the relations among the opportunity to underreport, social norms, ethical beliefs, and underreporting behavior," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 33(7-8), pages 684-703.

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