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Loss evasion and tax aversion

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Author Info

  • Engström, Per

    ()
    (Department of Economics)

  • Nordblom, Katarina

    ()
    (Department of Economics)

  • Ohlsson, Henry

    ()
    (Department of Economics)

  • Persson, Annika

    (The Swedish Tax Agency)

Abstract

The objective of this paper is to study if taxpayers behave in a loss averse manner when filing their tax returns. This is important for tax design but also for understanding human behavior in general. The predictions of prospect theory can be contrasted to those of expected utility theory. We use data for 3.6 million Swedish taxpayers for the income year 2006. Our research method is quasi-experimental using a regression kink and discontinuity approach. We also use an alternative instrumental-variables approach. There is strong evidence of loss aversion. We estimate the coefficient of loss aversion using actual behavior and the instrument-variables approach. Our estimate is very close to the estimates reported in the experimental literature.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Uppsala University, Department of Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number 2011:17.

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Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: 29 Nov 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:uunewp:2011_017

Contact details of provider:
Postal: Department of Economics, Uppsala University, P. O. Box 513, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden
Phone: + 46 18 471 25 00
Fax: + 46 18 471 14 78
Email:
Web page: http://www.nek.uu.se/
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Related research

Keywords: loss aversion; prospect theory; tax compliance; quasi-experiment; regression kink; regression discontinuity;

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References

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  1. Simon Gaechter & Eric J. Johnson & Andreas Herrmann, 2010. "Individual-level loss aversion in riskless and risky choices," Discussion Papers 2010-20, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  2. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. " Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
  3. Devin G. Pope & Maurice E. Schweitzer, 2011. "Is Tiger Woods Loss Averse? Persistent Bias in the Face of Experience, Competition, and High Stakes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(1), pages 129-57, February.
  4. Terrance Odean, 1998. "Are Investors Reluctant to Realize Their Losses?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(5), pages 1775-1798, October.
  5. Mohammed Abdellaoui & Han Bleichrodt & Corina Paraschiv, 2007. "Loss Aversion Under Prospect Theory: A Parameter-Free Measurement," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 53(10), pages 1659-1674, October.
  6. David Genesove & Christopher Mayer, 2001. "Loss Aversion and Seller Behavior: Evidence from the Housing Market," NBER Working Papers 8143, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Sanjit Dhami & Ali al-Nowaihi, 2005. "Why Do People Pay Taxes? Prospect Theory Versus Expected Utility Theory," Discussion Papers in Economics 05/23, Department of Economics, University of Leicester, revised Aug 2006.
  8. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2009. "Regression Discontinuity Designs In Economics," Working Papers 1118, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  9. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect and the Coase Theorem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1325-48, December.
  10. Ulrich Schmidt & Horst Zank, 2005. "What is Loss Aversion?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 30(2), pages 157-167, January.
  11. Benartzi, Shlomo & Thaler, Richard H, 1995. "Myopic Loss Aversion and the Equity Premium Puzzle," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 73-92, February.
  12. Michele Bernasconi & Alberto Zanardi, 2004. "Tax Evasion, Tax Rates, and Reference Dependence," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 60(3), pages 422-, September.
  13. Slemrod, Joel, et al, 1997. "April 15 Syndrome," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(4), pages 695-709, October.
  14. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-61, November.
  15. Botond Koszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2004. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," Method and Hist of Econ Thought 0407001, EconWPA.
  16. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  17. Kirchler, Erich & Maciejovsky, Boris, 2001. "Tax compliance within the context of gain and loss situations, expected and current asset position, and profession," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 173-194, April.
  18. Thaler, Richard H, et al, 1997. "The Effect of Myopia and Loss Aversion on Risk Taking: An Experimental Test," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 647-61, May.
  19. Robben, Henry S. J. & Webley, Paul & Elffers, Henk & Hessing, Dick J., 1990. "Decision frames, opportunity and tax evasion : An experimental approach," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 353-361, December.
  20. Yaniv, Gideon, 1999. "Tax Compliance and Advance Tax Payments: A Prospect Theory Analysis," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 4), pages 753-64, December .
  21. Mohammed Abdellaoui & Han Bleichrodt & Olivier L’Haridon, 2008. "A tractable method to measure utility and loss aversion under prospect theory," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 245-266, June.
  22. Kobberling, Veronika & Wakker, Peter P., 2005. "An index of loss aversion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 119-131, May.
  23. Schmidt, Ulrich & Traub, Stefan, 2002. " An Experimental Test of Loss Aversion," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 233-49, November.
  24. Bateman, Ian J, et al, 1997. "A Test of the Theory of Reference-Dependent Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 479-505, May.
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Cited by:
  1. J.ntti, Markus & Kanbur, Ravi & Nyyss.l., Milla & Pirttil., Jukka, 2012. "Poverty and Welfare Measurement on the Basis of Prospect Theory," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

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