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Rethinking the Research Paradigms for Analyzing Tax Compliance Behavior

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Author Info

  • James Alm

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Tulane University)

  • Erich Kirchler

    ()
    (Department of Applied Psychology: Work, Education and Economy, University of Vienna)

  • Stephan Muehlbacher

    ()
    (Department of Applied Psychology: Work, Education and Economy, University of Vienna)

  • Katharina Gangl

    ()
    (Department of Applied Psychology: Work, Education and Economy, University of Vienna)

  • Eva Hofmann

    ()
    (Department of Applied Psychology: Work, Education and Economy, University of Vienna)

  • Christoph Kogler

    ()
    (Department of Applied Psychology: Work, Education and Economy, University of Vienna)

  • Maria Pollai

    ()
    (Department of Applied Psychology: Work, Education and Economy, University of Vienna)

Abstract

In this paper we give our perspective on the different paradigms that have shaped – and seem likely to shape in the future – research in the field of tax compliance behavior. These research paradigms include viewing tax evasion as a decision under risk made by a single taxpayer, as a social dilemma in which there is a tension between individual interests (e.g., cheating on one's taxes) and collective goals (e.g., providing public goods), as a series of decisions made by many different types of taxpayers, and as a psychological contract between tax authorities and taxpayers. We argue that these different paradigms require that particular attention be paid to the main "actors in the field", which involves going beyond a focus on a single taxpayer to consider other taxpayers, tax accountants, the tax authorities, and the government. The ways in which these actors interact in different climates, especially the dynamics of power and trust between the actors, must also be considered. We conclude with a discussion of a framework – the "slippery slope framework" – that attempts to synthesize these different research paradigms. Throughout, we illustrate our arguments by reference to research that focuses especially on the European experience.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Tulane University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1210.

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Length: 15 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tul:wpaper:1210

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Keywords: tax evasion; behavioral economics; social norms; "slippery slope";

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References

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  1. James Alm, 2012. "Measuring, Explaining, and Controlling Tax Evasion: Lessons from Theory, Experiments, and Field Studies," Working Papers 1213, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
  2. James Alm & Benno Torgler, 2004. "Culture Differences and Tax Morale in the United States and in Europe," CREMA Working Paper Series 2004-14, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  3. Stephan Muehlbacher & Erich Kirchler & Herbert Schwarzenberger, 2011. "Voluntary versus enforced tax compliance: empirical evidence for the “slippery slope” framework," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 89-97, August.
  4. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  5. Gerald J. Pruckner & Rupert Sausgruber, 2008. "Honesty on the Streets - A Natural Field Experiment on Newspaper Purchasing," Working Papers 2009-24, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
  6. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2000. "A fine is a price," Natural Field Experiments 00258, The Field Experiments Website.
  7. Kirchler, Erich, 1999. "Reactance to taxation: Employers' attitudes towards taxes," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 131-138, July.
  8. Ingrid Wahl & Stephan Muehlbacher & Erich Kirchler, 2010. "The Impact of Voting on Tax Payments," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(1), pages 144-158, 02.
  9. Erich Kirchler & Boris Maciejovsky & Martin Weber, 2004. "Framing Effects, Selective Information and Market Behavior ­ An Experimental Analysis ­," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2004-16, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
  10. James Alm & Benno Torgler, 2012. "Do Ethics Matter? Tax Compliance and Morality," Working Papers 1207, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
  11. Gerald J. Pruckner & Rupert Sausgruber, 2013. "Honesty On The Streets: A Field Study On Newspaper Purchasing," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 661-679, 06.
  12. Srinivasan, T. N., 1973. "Tax evasion: A model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 339-346.
  13. Francesco Guala & Luigi Mittone, 2005. "Experiments in economics: External validity and the robustness of phenomena," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(4), pages 495-515.
  14. 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.
  15. Kastlunger, Barbara & Kirchler, Erich & Mittone, Luigi & Pitters, Julia, 2009. "Sequences of audits, tax compliance, and taxpaying strategies," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 405-418, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Pickhardt, Michael & Prinz, Aloys, 2014. "Behavioral dynamics of tax evasion – A survey," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 1-19.

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