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Tax Evasion: Cheating Rationally or Deciding Emotionally?

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  • Giorgio Coricelli
  • Mateus Joffily
  • Claude Montmarquette

    ()

  • Marie-Claire Villeval

Abstract

The economic models of tax compliance predict that individuals should evade taxes when the expected benefit of cheating is greater than its expected cost. When this condition is fulfilled, the high compliance however observed remains a puzzle. In this paper, we investigate the role of emotions as a possible explanation of tax compliance. Our laboratory experiment shows that emotional arousal, measured by Skin Conductance Responses, increases in the proportion of evaded taxes. The perspective of punishment after an audit, especially when the pictures of the evaders are publicly displayed, also raises emotions. We show that an audit policy that induces shame on the evaders favors compliance. Les modèles économiques d'évasion fiscale prédisent que les individus devraient frauder dès que le bénéfice attendu de l'évasion dépasse son coût espéré. Sous cette condition, le fort taux de revenu déclaré pourtant observé constitue une énigme. Dans cet article, nous nous intéressons au rôle des émotions comme explication possible de ce phénomène. Notre expérience de laboratoire montre que l'intensité des émotions, mesurée par la conductance de la peau, augmente avec la proportion du revenu qui n'est pas déclarée. La perspective d'une sanction à l'issue d'un contrôle, en particulier lorsque la photo des contrevenants est diffusée, soulève également des émotions. Nous montrons qu'une politique de contrôle qui suscite la honte chez les fraudeurs favorise l'honnêteté fiscale.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CIRANO in its series CIRANO Working Papers with number 2007s-22.

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Date of creation: 01 Oct 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:2007s-22

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Keywords: tax evasion; emotions; neuro-economics; physiological measures; shame; experiments.; fraude fiscale; émotions; neuro-économie; mesures physiologiques; honte; expériences.;

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References

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  1. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1974. "Income tax evasion: A theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 201-202, May.
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  10. Alm, James & Cronshaw, Mark B & McKee, Michael, 1993. "Tax Compliance with Endogenous Audit Selection Rules," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(1), pages 27-45.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Konrad, Kai A. & Qari, Salmai, 2009. "The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel? Patriotism and Tax Compliance," IZA Discussion Papers 4121, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Cervellati, Matteo & Vanin, Paolo, 2013. "“Thou shalt not covet”: Prohibitions, temptation and moral values," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 15-28.
  3. Batrancea Larissa-Margareta & Nichita Ramona-Anca, 2012. "A Neuroeconomic Approach Of Tax Behavior," Annals of Faculty of Economics, University of Oradea, Faculty of Economics, vol. 1(1), pages 649-654, July.
  4. Konrad, Kai A. & Qari, Salmai, 2012. "The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel?," Munich Reprints in Economics 13960, University of Munich, Department of Economics.

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