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Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivations for Tax Compliance: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Germany

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  • Nadja Dwenger
  • Henrik Kleven
  • Imran Rasul
  • Johannes Rincke

Abstract

We study extrinsic and intrinsic motivations for tax compliance in the context of a local church tax in Germany. This tax system has historically relied on zero deterrence so that any compliance at baseline is intrinsically motivated. Starting from this zero deterrence baseline, we implement a field experiment that incentivized compliance through deterrence or rewards. Using administrative records of taxes paid and true tax liabilities, we use these treatments to document that intrinsically motivated compliance is substantial, that a significant fraction of it may be driven by duty-to-comply preferences, and that there is no crowd-out between extrinsic and intrinsic motivations.

Suggested Citation

  • Nadja Dwenger & Henrik Kleven & Imran Rasul & Johannes Rincke, 2016. "Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivations for Tax Compliance: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Germany," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 203-232, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:8:y:2016:i:3:p:203-32
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.20150083
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gerlinde Fellner & Rupert Sausgruber & Christian Traxler, 2013. "Testing Enforcement Strategies In The Field: Threat, Moral Appeal And Social Information," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 634-660, June.
    2. Bruno S. Frey & Stephan Meier, 2004. "Social Comparisons and Pro-social Behavior: Testing "Conditional Cooperation" in a Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1717-1722, December.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • K34 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Tax Law
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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