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Rethinking the Research Paradigms for Analysing Tax Compliance Behaviour

  • James Alm
  • Erich Kirchler
  • Stephan Muehlbacher
  • Katharina Gangl
  • Eva Hofmann
  • Christoph Kogler
  • Maria Pollai

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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Article provided by Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich in its journal CESifo Forum.

Volume (Year): 13 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 (07)
Pages: 33-40

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Handle: RePEc:ces:ifofor:v:13:y:2012:i:2:p:33-40
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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. Erich Kirchler & Boris Maciejovsky & Martin Weber, 2010. "Framing Effects, Selective Information and Market Behavior: An Experimental Analysis," Chapters, in: Handbook of Behavioral Finance, chapter 1 Edward Elgar.
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  6. James Alm, 2012. "Measuring, Explaining, and Controlling Tax Evasion: Lessons from Theory, Experiments, and Field Studies," Working Papers 1213, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
  7. James Alm & Benno Torgler, 2011. "Do Ethics Matter? Tax Compliance and Morality," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 101(4), pages 635-651, July.
  8. 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.
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  10. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. 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.
  13. Ingrid Wahl & Stephan Muehlbacher & Erich Kirchler, 2010. "The Impact of Voting on Tax Payments," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(1), pages 144-158, 02.
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  15. 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.
  16. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521876742 is not listed on IDEAS
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