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Empathy, Sympathy, and Tax Compliance

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Author Info

  • Roberta Calvet

    ()
    (Department of Business Management and Communication, Lesley University)

  • James Alm

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Tulane University)

Abstract

This paper examines the effect of "empathy" and "sympathy" on tax compliance. We run a series of laboratory experiments in which we observe the subjects' decisions in a series of one-shot tax compliance games presented at once and with no immediate feedback. Importantly, we employ methods to identify subjects' sympathy, such as the Davis Empathic Concern Scale and questions about frequency of prosocial behaviors; we also use priming in order to promote subjects' empathy. Our results suggest that the presence of sympathy in most cases encourages more tax compliance. Our results also suggest that priming to elicit empathy also has a positive impact on tax compliance. These results support the inclusion of noneconomic factors in the analysis of tax compliance behavior.

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File URL: http://econ.tulane.edu/RePEc/pdf/tul1310.pdf
File Function: First Version, February 2013
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Tulane University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1310.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tul:wpaper:1310

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Related research

Keywords: Tax evasion; Emotions; Morality; Identity; Behavioral economics; Experimental economics;

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References

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  1. 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).
  2. James Alm & Benno Torgler, 2011. "Do Ethics Matter? Tax Compliance and Morality," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 101(4), pages 635-651, July.
  3. Andreoni, J. & Erard, B. & Feinstein, J., 1996. "Tax Compliance," Working papers 9610r, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  4. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A. & Laury, Susan K., 2002. "Private costs and public benefits: unraveling the effects of altruism and noisy behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 255-276, February.
  5. Blumenthal, Marsha & Christian, Charles W. & Slemrod, Joel, 2001. "Do Normative Appeals Affect Tax Compliance? Evidence from a Controlled Experiment in Minnesota," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 54(n. 1), pages 125-38, March Cit.
  6. Joseph G. Eisenhauer, 2006. "The Shadow Price of Morality," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 32(3), pages 437-456, Summer.
  7. Fortin, Bernard & Lacroix, Guy & Villeval, Marie-Claire, 2007. "Tax evasion and social interactions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(11-12), pages 2089-2112, December.
  8. 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.
  9. Cowell,Frank & Gordon,James, 1987. "Unwillingness to pay: Tax evasion and public good provision," Discussion Paper Serie A 142, University of Bonn, Germany.
  10. Traxler, Christian, 2006. "Social Norms and Conditional Cooperative Taxpayers," Discussion Papers in Economics 1202, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  11. Giorgio Coricelli & Mateus Joffily & Claude Montmarquette & Marie Villeval, 2010. "Cheating, emotions, and rationality: an experiment on tax evasion," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 226-247, June.
  12. Erard, Brian & Feinstein, Jonathan S, 1994. "The Role of Moral Sentiments and Audit Perceptions in Tax Compliance," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 49(Supplemen), pages 70-89.
  13. James Alm & Michael McKee, 1998. "Extending the lessons of laboratory experiments on tax compliance to managerial and decision economics," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(4-5), pages 259-275.
  14. Kim, Youngse, 2003. "Income distribution and equilibrium multiplicity in a stigma-based model of tax evasion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(7-8), pages 1591-1616, August.
  15. Myles, Gareth D. & Naylor, Robin A., 1996. "A model of tax evasion with group conformity and social customs," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 49-66, April.
  16. Alm, James & McClelland, Gary H. & Schulze, William D., 1992. "Why do people pay taxes?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 21-38, June.
  17. 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.
  18. Elster, Jon, 1989. "Social Norms and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 99-117, Fall.
  19. 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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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. James Alm, 2013. "Expanding the Theory of Tax Compliance from Individual to Group Motivations," Working Papers 1309, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
  2. 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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