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Efficient tax reporting: The effects of taxpayer information services

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  • Christian A. Vossler
  • Michael McKee

Abstract

As policy makers recognize the complexity of the tax system can result in some “evasion” being due to errors, there has been increasing focus on the role of taxpayer services as a tool in the enforcement regime. Such programs can improve the image of the tax agency but the critical issue is the effect on tax reporting. While the earlier focus has been on tax evasion, tax overreporting is also an issue since it leads to inefficient resource allocation. Thus, the present paper focusses on the effectiveness of taxpayer service programs in enhancing tax reporting. Data are collected on tax reporting decisions via laboratory experiments designed to implement the tax reporting task. To investigate the effects of taxpayer services, we “complicate” these compliance decisions of subjects, and then provide “services” from the “tax administration” that allow subjects to compute more easily their tax liabilities. Briefly, we find that our subjects are less likely to file when tax liability is uncertain but the provision of information offsets this effect; it appears that simply providing the service, even an imperfect service, increases the propensity to file and the accuracy of the filing. Key Words: tax information services; tax reporting; behavioral economics; experimental economics

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Appalachian State University in its series Working Papers with number 13-24.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:apl:wpaper:13-24

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  1. Kate Krause, 2000. "Tax Complexity: Problem or Opportunity?," Public Finance Review, , vol. 28(5), pages 395-414, September.
  2. Smith, Vernon L, 1982. "Microeconomic Systems as an Experimental Science," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 923-55, December.
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  5. Cummings, Ronald G. & Martinez-Vazquez, Jorge & McKee, Michael & Torgler, Benno, 2009. "Tax morale affects tax compliance: Evidence from surveys and an artefactual field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 447-457, June.
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  7. Alm, James, 1988. "Uncertain Tax Policies, Individual Behavior, and Welfare," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 237-45, March.
  8. Erard, Brian & Ho, Chih-Chin, 2001. "Searching for ghosts: who are the nonfilers and how much tax do they owe?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 25-50, July.
  9. Frank A. Cowell, 1990. "Cheating the Government: The Economics of Evasion," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262532484, December.
  10. Allingham, Michael G. & Sandmo, Agnar, 1972. "Income tax evasion: a theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3-4), pages 323-338, November.
  11. Alm, James & Jackson, Betty R. & McKee, Michael, 2009. "Getting the word out: Enforcement information dissemination and compliance behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(3-4), pages 392-402, April.
  12. Jung, Woon-Oh, 1991. "Tax reporting game under uncertain tax laws and asymmetric information," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 323-329, November.
  13. Brian Erard & Chih-Chin Ho, 1999. "Searching for Ghosts: Who Are the Nonfilers nd How Much Tax Do They Owe?," Carleton Economic Papers 99-11, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2001.
  14. Powell, Melanie & Ansic, David, 1997. "Gender differences in risk behaviour in financial decision-making: An experimental analysis," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 605-628, November.
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